The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Now, Mr Taylor, yesterday when we concluded we were discussing a letter sent by you to the Secretary-General dealing with the suggestion that you were involved with diamonds. Do you recall that?

  • Now, in the context of that letter I'd asked you about any dealings you might have had - or it is suggested you had with Foday Sankoh and diamonds in the year 2000. Do you recall that?

  • Now, help us, Mr Taylor. After the early '90s, when was the first time you set eyes upon Foday Sankoh?

  • The first time I set eyes on Foday Sankoh was in September of 1999.

  • Now, we've gone through that, haven't we, Mr Taylor?

  • Because he came to Monrovia, did he not, in order that some reconciliation could be forged between him and Johnny Paul Koroma. Is that right?

  • And it's in that context that you saw him in late September 1999, and we've gone through the documentation on that, haven't we?

  • Yes, counsel. I'm sorry, I misspoke about seeing him in September. Actually, I - that is incorrect. I saw him in July in Lome.

  • Yeah. If we look at the question, yes, I saw him in July.

  • You saw him in July in Lome?

  • And when was the next time you saw him?

  • And, again, we've looked at that, yes?

  • When was the next time you saw him after that, Mr Taylor?

  • The next time I saw him was a meeting that we held in November trying to broach the disagreement between he and Sam Bockarie on the issue of disarmament.

  • And did you see him again after that?

  • Yes, I saw him again in December along with President Obasanjo in Liberia, late December, where we concluded the final extraction of Sam Bockarie from Sierra Leone.

  • Mr Taylor, did you see Mr Sankoh again after that?

  • No, I have not to this point seen him. I did not see Sankoh. Following that December meeting, January, February, March, April, Sankoh did not come to Liberia to see me, and he was arrested in May, and I never saw him after that meeting in December. Never, ever saw him.

  • So let's just be clear. In July in Lome?

  • In late September in Monrovia?

  • In November in Monrovia?

  • In late December in Monrovia?

  • So, Mr Taylor, this suggestion that you received a 45 carat diamond from him some time in the year 2000, is there any truth in that whatsoever?

  • It's a blatant lie. Never saw Foday Sankoh. And if Foday Sankoh had come to Liberia, there would be records of that. Never came back to Liberia after the last week in December that I saw him for the extraction of Sam Bockarie. Never.

  • Now, before we move on, and can I say, for the assistance of everyone, the suggestion regarding the giving of that 45 carat diamond is referred to by TF1-567, pages 13012 to 13015 of the transcript of 7 July 2008.

    Now, Mr Taylor, there's one other matter that I want to clarify with you and it is this: At the time when the UN hostages were released, how were they transported from Foya to Monrovia?

  • Via helicopter.

  • And how many helicopter trips, just roughly, were required to transfer those detainees from Foya to Monrovia?

  • Oh, boy. I do not know, but we probably could do some brief calculations. The helicopters were UN Mi-8s. They take, if I'm not wrong, no more than 20 persons. They are Mi-8s. And so if we divide that, we could get an approximate number of trips. I think we're talking about the first batch of about 240, we're talking about 5, 10, close to 15 trips, I would say.

  • Right. And who provided the helicopters?

  • The UN. The UN provided helicopters.

  • So they were United Nations helicopters that were doing the transporting?

  • What colour were they, Mr Taylor, do you know?

  • The UN helicopters were white - either blue and white or white, but I think mostly white.

  • And so they were flying in and out of Foya during that period on a regular basis, were they?

  • Now, you told us that there came a point when you asked Issa Sesay, he having written to you that letter which we looked at, you invited him to come to Monrovia so you could speak to him.

  • How did he travel to Monrovia?

  • Issa Sesay came by road into Foya. We sent our Mi-2, a small helicopter, to pick him up and bring him to Monrovia.

  • And help us, when he was returning to Sierra Leone, by what means he did travel?

  • He flew back into Foya and then travelled by road back to Sierra Leone.

  • And there came a time when he returned to Liberia, didn't there?

  • And, again, on that occasion, by what means did he travel?

  • He came again the same way by road. That's the rainy season. And then came to Foya and then flew to Monrovia to meet us.

  • And did he return on that occasion to Sierra Leone by the same means?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, we looked at that letter that Issa Sesay wrote to you. Do you recall that letter?

  • Now, can we remind ourselves of its contents, please. Can we look, please, in binder 1 of 4, week 33, behind divider 47. This is a document we looked at yesterday, Mr Taylor.

    Now, Mr Taylor, prior to receiving this letter, Mr Taylor, remind us, had you ever had any contact with an individual by the name of Issa Sesay?

  • Issa and I had had no contacts.

  • And when I speak of contact, Mr Taylor, had you had any contact with Issa Sesay prior to 11 May 2000 by radio, by telephone, by letter, by sight?

  • Did you know of the existence of someone called Issa Sesay before 11 May 2000?

  • But there'd never been any contact?

  • There'd never been any contact. Never.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, what I want you to help us with is this: Looking at this letter, "Dear Mr President, in view of the developments unfolding in our country", et cetera, et cetera, tell me, it is alleged against you that you were in control of the RUF and that you were in regular radio communication with them. You appreciate that, don't you?

  • Yes, I do.

  • You appreciate that, for example, during the years when Bockarie was in charge of the RUF, in the absence of Foday Sankoh, you were the one who was supposed to be directing operations directly through radio control. You appreciate that, don't you?

  • You were supposed to have been in constant contact with them via those means. Is that right?

  • So help us, Mr Taylor, can you explain why in these circumstances Issa Sesay felt it necessary to write to you as opposed to contacting you on the radio which you'd been using to control them all these years? Why would he need to be writing to you in May of 2000; can you explain?

  • Yes, I can come up with a probable answer. It is that because we had not been in these radio contacts that are alleged. As simple as that. There were no such radio contacts and control that they're talking about. These are all mere fabrications, and so Issa writes because this is again, with respect, just as you're saying, if it was simple for him to get on radio and say, "Guess what, here's our problem." It just is not true.

  • Now let's put that letter away, please. Now, Mr Taylor, still on the question of Issa Sesay, when he was returning to Sierra Leone, having visited at your request, did you give him arms and ammunition to take back with him?

  • On 7 July in the year 2008 a witness called by the Prosecution said this. This is at page 13039 of the transcript for 7 July 2008:

    "Q. Did you learn why Issa Sesay was seeking advice from

    Charles Taylor?

    A. Yes. After I went and met Issa Sesay, he told me it

    was because Charles Taylor was our big revolutionary

    father. So he said he went to him for him to give him

    advice.

    Q. Tell us what advice he received, if you know?

    A. Well, after Issa Sesay met the Pa, Charles Taylor, he

    said he told him that he, Charles Taylor, he would request

    for the UN peacekeepers arrested by the RUF, for them to be

    released. So he said they will serve as a help to him to

    show to the world that when he says anything, that thing

    will happen. So after he returned, the UN peacekeepers

    were released through Charles Taylor's command. All of

    them came to Foya, and from Foya they were airlifted to

    Spriggs Field.

    Q. When Issa Sesay left Monrovia to go back to Sierra

    Leone, how did he travel from Monrovia?

    A. They travelled on board a helicopter to go to Foya. It

    was at Foya that the helicopter dropped him, and from there

    he took a vehicle to return to Sierra Leone.

    Q. If you know, whose helicopter was it?

    A. It was Charles Taylor's helicopter.

    Q. Did Issa take anything back with him to Sierra Leone?

    A. Yes, when Issa Sesay was going he took with him

    ammunition, but I can't recall the quantity that he took

    with him.

    Q. How do you know that he took ammunition with him?

    A. When Issa Sesay used to come to Monrovia, I will be

    with him for all the time until his return. I went with

    him to Spriggs Field. I entered the helicopter and I saw

    the materials. That was how I came to know that he went

    with ammunition.

    Q. Do you know from whom he received this ammunition?

    A. At all times when ammunition were given, Benjamin

    Yeaten will say it is his dad, Charles Taylor, who provided

    them."

    Now, Mr Taylor, when Sesay came to Monrovia when you were busy trying to seek the release of those UN peacekeepers, did you send him back with arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone?

  • The answer is bluntly no. Never did. And why is it - why it can't be any other answer except no, let's look at - maybe one of the things we ought to do - that I'm not sure if it can be pulled up for the sake of the judges - an Mi-2 helicopter. We need to probably get a picture of an Mi-2 helicopter. It's a very tiny little aircraft that takes about six persons. It's a small helicopter - very small helicopter that were being used by us to ferry people up and down.

    At Spriggs Payne Airport, where this was supposed to happen, Spriggs Payne Airport contained what? At this particular time because of the crisis there are UN personnel also at the airport waiting in anticipation of all of these negotiations. So maybe if we had a picture of this helicopter. Looking at Issa Sesay, his bodyguards, and the number of persons that will fly on the helicopter, these judges will see that it is impossible for this nonsense that these little boys come and talk that. They have no idea. And this is the tragedy of this whole situation with me. Here are people that have no idea of what is going on. Heads of State calling, you summons Issa Sesay, he comes, you are negotiating trying to get people released, even Issa Sesay coming back, meeting Heads of State. These boys don't know what's going on. And they bring all these complex questions to them, and they're trying to make people understand that they know what's happening and have no idea of what's going on.

    It's a blatant lie, and probably if we brought the helicopter, the Mi-2 for - I think we should have pictures of those helicopters, then these judges will see what we're talking about. It's just not true.

  • Now, the witness who said this about you, Mr Taylor, is the same witness who claims that Foday Sankoh gave you a 45-carat diamond. That's the same person. Now, the helicopter which flew Sesay back to Foya, who owned it?

  • It is owned by the Liberian government.

  • Was it painted in camouflage?

  • Yes, it's a military - it was used by the ATU, yes.

  • And help us, Mr Taylor. How much attention was being paid to you and Liberia at this time at the height of the negotiations for the release of the peacekeepers?

  • A lot of attention. There are UN personnel on the ground at the airport. Everybody is waiting in anticipation. These are more than 500 United Nations personnel being held. The international press have converged on Liberia. There's nobody - everything is out in the open. I mean, every diplomat you can think about involved with senior UN activities are all moving around. There is nothing hidden about this. The world press is covering it in full blast.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, is it the case that in those circumstances right under the nose of the UN you were giving Issa Sesay arms to take back to Sierra Leone?

  • That's what makes it so incredible. The whole thought of it is incredible that that would be happening. It's just - I don't know, you know, maybe it's fate for me. I don't know how these people come up with these things. I have no idea. It would be stupid, it would be foolish, nonsensical that somebody would want to - while trying to make peace, while trying to release hostages with the United Nations, with the international press, United Nations personnel at the airport, the military people are in Liberia, I mean, waiting in anticipation, we're trying to see if things are going to work, because the first thing was to call Issa Sesay in. Once Issa accepted all systems - and mind you, while this is going on these UN helicopters that I'm talking about are also parked at Spriggs Payne Airport. So Spriggs Payne Airport is not a deserted little airport where no one is present. People are waiting in anticipation. All systems are ready to go and fly these hostages once there is conclusion. So once this thing is we done, we're rushing Issa Sesay back to go across so we can begin to move the hostages. This is not like somebody is hiding in a little corner and doing things. Everything is in the clear view of the press, United Nations military personnel, everybody is present. How is somebody supposed to be trying to get - in fact, even if one were to vaguely assume that arms are being loaded on an Mi-2 helicopter, or ammunition, how much - what can you put on an Mi-2 with five, six or more persons on board? Nothing. You can't. It's just incredible, that's what I will cal it, that they would think that way or even make up this lie.

  • Now, yesterday when we were looking at that letter addressed by you to the Secretary-General relating to diamonds, you will recall, Mr Taylor, that that was in June of 2000, yes?

  • Now, at this time, Mr Taylor, was Liberia still making efforts to obtain overseas aid?

  • Oh, yes. We were still trying to get the EU and the Bretton Wood institutions to think favourably about us. We were trying to get assistance from the United States. We were trying very, very hard to do so.

  • And what about the European Union?

  • Yes, that's the EU.

  • But eventually - we were shocked when we received news that because of allegations floating out there about our so-called involvement in Sierra Leone, that the EU would suspend all its activities and promised assistance to Liberia.

  • And when was that decision made?

  • That reached to us somewhere in June and then we - we were all very shocked. That's about - I would put it to about late June or thereabouts.

  • Now, did that decision have consequences for Liberia?

  • Serious consequences. Serious consequences. Our hopes were dashed. We were just devastated by that, in the face of the fact that these were just mere allegations. We had been trying to get to the bottom of it, nobody was trying, and all of a sudden we learned that the EU is going to do this. The United Nations too was a bit disturbed by it, because we had been working very hard with the office of the special representative, the UNDP people in Monrovia. Everybody was just so devastated by this because they, the UN people on the ground, knew that we were doing everything possible to meet up with some of the outrageous - and may I call it outrageous - conditionalities that normally come from some of these countries and institutions. But we were doing our best and still got slapped in the face.

  • And tell us, was there any particular European country who had prompted the decision to stop any aid package to Liberia?

  • Well, normally it would always be led by our good old friend the British, who always lead the assault. So they would be the first to come after us.

  • And you mentioned that you'd been working with the office of the special representative --

  • And so was the office of the special representative fully briefed as to what was going on?

  • Yes. He was briefed and also devastated, and after maybe almost hearing us cry about this for a couple of days, he fired off a very long report to the Secretary-General, to his boss, about the overall attitude of the Liberian government and how we felt about this devastating act that had taken place.

  • And did you see that report?

  • Yes, that's why I know it was - he fired it off at that time to report that Liberia was devastated by this and that it was unfortunate, as all of us were looking forward to turning over a new page, as Liberia was doing her best to meet up with these conditionalities and, unfortunately, this issue had come up and that it was a terrible blow.

  • I'd like you, please, to look at a document in binder 2 of --

  • Yes, Mr President. We would suggest that, even with the lowered foundational requirements, there still needs to be a question about whether it was part of his archives.

  • Was it part of your archives, Mr Taylor?

  • Mr Taylor, just so that we can deal with this issue of archives once and for all, these documents that we're looking at relating to the United Nations, how did we come in possession of them if they were not in your archives? Help us.

  • Well, I don't know what other way the team could have - there were some minor documents that were - that are public documents that we accumulated, but there are some other governmental documents that involved the activities of the Liberian government at that time with the UN that we received through that office in Monrovia. So there are different sets of these documents that I'm aware of.

  • Now, as I say, I am anxious to put this matter to bed. What was the nature of the relationship with the UN special representative in Monrovia, Mr Taylor?

  • We had a very good working - very good working relationship.

  • And, Mr Taylor, the documents generated by that special representative that came to be in your archive, how did that come about?

  • I've said before that what we had discussed with that office and agreed with that office was as follows: Sensitive information that did not involve conversations with me, messages sent through me to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, documents, response to my messages, form a part of Liberian government information and should be provided to the government, and that was done.

    As regards personal comments, secret documents between the special representative and his boss, we were not entitled to those documents. But once it involved the Government of Liberia, as it involves messages and discussions, it was a part of our own right to have, and they were provided to us. That's how we got them.

  • And having been provided to you, Mr Taylor, what did you do with them?

  • Those documents were kept - in fact, there are copies of these documents also in Liberia. I kept a copy because I was planning to build a presidential library. So I have copies in some archives that I put together. In fact, the Court can be reminded, I was in this Court when the Defence asked for a little delay because several boxes of my archived documents were evacuated even after my arrest and the Court was asked for some time. I'm not sure if it was one or two weeks that was given for those documents to be obtained.

    So my documents that I put together, a separate set, were for me, and these documents - there are some of these documents that are still in the public Liberian government archives right now. So these are not secret things that I received. It was received by the Liberian government. In my attempt to set up a presidential library, I evacuated most of my personal documents when I left office. Those that I did not take with me in Nigeria were subsequently removed while I was incarcerated here.

  • And, Mr Taylor, did you in due course cause those archives to be provided to your lawyers?

  • Yes, that's what I'm saying. You, Defence, asked this Bench for I think a week or two at the beginning to review papers that were given - I mean, that had come in late, so to speak.

  • And, Mr Taylor, when we look at these documents relating to the special representative, in these volumes of documents that we're looking at, just help us, please, because, as I say, I want to put an end to this, where do they come from?

  • Where what comes from, the documents?

  • They are coming from my archives. They're coming from my archives.

  • Thank you very much. Binder 2, week 33, please. Let's look behind divider 60, please, Mr Taylor. Do you have it?

  • What are we looking at, Mr Taylor?

  • We are looking at the very document that I'm talking about, expressing the devastation on the part of the Liberian government and everybody because of these decisions that have recently come from the EU regarding stopping assistance to Liberia.

  • Now, we see that it's dated 19 June 2000, yes?

  • And the subject matter is President Taylor and Sierra Leone. Is that right?

  • And it's addressed to the Under-Secretary-General. Is that right?

  • Copied at the same time to the special representative in Freetown?

  • And it's from that gentleman with whom we've now become familiar, Mr Felix Downes-Thomas. Is that right?

  • "I refer to your code cable of 13 June 2000 on the subject above. While it touched upon recent Liberia related decisions taken by both the foreign ministers of the European Union and the World Bank, it also requested by views on:

    1. What appears to you as an emergence of tension between Liberia and Sierra Leone;

    2. The best ways of keeping President Taylor constructively engaged in the Sierra Leone peace process; and

    3. How the United Nations secretariat should react to the ECOWAS initiative to lift the arms embargo on Liberia."

    Pause for a moment. Now note, "I refer to your code cable", that means to a code cable sent by Prendergast. Do you appreciate that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I do.

  • And Prendergast, you remember, back in '99 had contacted his special representative in Liberia suggesting that Liberia was slipping back into disorder. Do you remember?

  • So it's quite clear that this is a response to a cable sent by Prendergast setting out further anxieties felt by him, yes?

  • Anxiety number one is that there is an emergence of tension between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Now, help us, at this time, was there such an emergence?

  • Yes, some tension. In fact, this is - just about this same time I had received a letter from President Kabbah relating to press reports out of Washington and other places. So there were some tensions. There were some tensions.

  • Now, the letter from Kabbah, Mr Taylor, if we just keep one hand in that page, yes?

  • And just go back to the previous divider. Is that the letter from President Kabbah?

  • Dated 19 June. And you see - just looking at the first paragraph for now, we'll come back to this letter later - "I thought I should, in accordance with the agreement between us, share with you information contained in the attached documents reflecting recent reports carried by the Washington Post. My main interest in the report relates to the alleged movement of arms into Sierra Leone territory which our intelligence agencies have been noticing."

    Yes?

  • We'll come back to that letter and we'll come back to the Washington Post article as well, but for now, let's return to this United Nations document, please. So there had been an emergence of tension between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • And, no doubt, from (ii) Prendergast, was also anxious to keep you constructively engaged in the Sierra Leonean peace process, yes?

  • And, also, would it be right to say that ECOWAS was at that time considering lifting the arms embargo on Liberia?

  • "With regard to the specific matter of the human condition in Liberia, the recent decisions by the European Union foreign ministers and by the World Bank are likely to be far reaching in their effects. Those decisions as well as the matters listed above are linked consequentially to the allegation of Liberia's complicity with the RUF. Unless this allegation is addressed forthrightly, comprehensively and transparently, it will continue to re-emerge only to make efforts towards a solution of the Sierra Leone problem and the achievement of stability within the area of the Mano River Union unnecessarily protracted."

    So at this time, Mr Taylor, there were a lot of allegations being made about Liberia, weren't there?

  • And it was in light of those allegations that the European Union had made a decision to freeze a multimillion dollar aid programme for Liberia. That's right, isn't it?

  • And this also at a time when you had, to borrow a phrase, been constructively engaged in securing the release of the peacekeepers, yes?

  • "Unless this allegation is addressed forthrightly, comprehensively and transparently, it will continue to re-emerge only to make efforts towards a solution of the Sierra Leone problem and the achievement of stability within the area of the Mano River Union unnecessarily protracted. These initial observations will be amplified in the provision of the requested views as follows:

    Recent European Union and World Bank decisions.

    Particular attention has been paid to your observation that Britain's decision to prevail on European Union foreign ministers to freeze a multimillion dollar aid programme for Liberia dashes any hope for an early resumption of increase of international assistance to that country. In the light of UNOL's mandate, and against the continuous efforts by UN agencies in Liberia to facilitate and mobilise the inflow of resources, the recent decision by the European Union is most discouraging. The domino effect this decision is likely to have on other donors' perception of Liberia, as well as their response to Liberia's present and future requests, cannot be discounted.

    If indeed the recent decisions by the European Union and the World Bank constitute a trend or, as you put it, could be seen as an unfortunate trend, then it would not be farfetched to assume that pressure is likely to be placed on our organisation to effect a significant reduction of UN assistance and presence, including that of UNOL in Liberia."

    Mr Taylor, "pressure is likely to be placed on our organisation", that is, on the United Nations, "to effect a significant reduction of UN assistance and presence", where would such pressure come from?

  • Well, only two places. Well, I could expand it to maybe three. It would come from the United States, that is the largest contributor to the UN budget. Now we have the European Union, that would be Britain et al, and maybe some of the other major donors that they may be able to bring pressure to bear upon them. This is what happens when your country - when they want to break you and destroy your government, these are the kinds of pressures. So this is why it is described as unfortunate, because this is a normal trend. There is nothing new happening here that people don't - there is nothing new here. We see it, we know it, it is the way - this is how we find things. So it will come from these major countries. We said before here before this Court the Bretton Wood institutions, the World Bank is controlled by the United States, the International Monetary Fund is controlled by Europe. So when you hear of the World Bank and the IMF, you're talking about where? The United States already, or may I just say combined North America, United States and Canada. And when you talk about the IMF, you have already included Europe. So once there is a decision - and these decisions are not decisions that are taken in isolation. These decisions are discussed at length. Once you hear one capital make a decision, you hear it right across the Atlantic it is made there. So you are just like a fly in molasses: You are finished. So there is nothing new here, but this is where it's coming from.

  • "Were such a scenario to be actually played out, the emergence of a humanitarian disaster in Liberia would be concomitant. Despite the in vogue talk about reconstruction and development in Liberia, the sad fact is that the very vast, immediate and urgent needs of the country and its citizens can be safely placed under the rubric of emergency or humanitarian assistance."

    Was that the position, Mr Taylor?

  • "What is also known to UNOL as a fact is that informed Liberians do hold on to the assumption that there is a causal link between Britain's influence and the indefinite postponement of the World Bank meeting which was to have decided on the convening of a donor conference for Liberia. Within government circles, where the assumption is more conspiratorial in character, it is held that the recent decisions by the European Union and World Bank are aimed at ensuring the economic strangulation of Liberia. According to those who make this assumption, such strangulation is to serve to effect a non-electoral political transformation in Liberia. Assumptions of these sorts seem to validate your own observation that these decisions by the European Union and World Bank could be seen as an unfortunate trend. The attached clippings from the local press on the EU decision should provide a broader sample of local reactions."

    "Non-electoral political transformation in Liberia", Mr Taylor?

  • What does that mean?

  • Popular uprising to throw you out. That's what it means.

  • Fully. Non-electoral. Your people get despondent, everything is cut off, and the people take to the streets and throw you out. That's what this whole intention was set for, yes.

  • And going back to the beginning of that paragraph, "a causal link between Britain's influence". Now, who had interests in Sierra Leone, Mr Taylor? Which country?

  • Britain. Britain. Britain. In fact, the President of the Court asked me yesterday if they had interests, and I talked about British investment, old colonial masters, our own efforts - they saw the efforts of ECOWAS, and especially Nigeria, as being emboldened, and they wanted to stop Nigeria's influence. As a result, they would not stop at anything but intervention, which they did, even while the UN was there. So it's Britain.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, so we have this combination of Britain's influence, what appears to be efforts to achieve regime change, and just at that time there is this upsurge in allegations about your involvement in Sierra Leone?

  • Now, did you see a link between all of these things?

  • Oh, definitely. Definitely. Definitely. Definitely.

  • "Assumptions of these sorts seem to validate your other observation that these decisions by the European Union and the World Bank could be seen as an unfortunate trend. The attached clippings from the local press on the European Union decision should provide a broader sample of local reactions.

    The somewhat worrisome reactions, assumptions, as well as the bleak scenarios described above, stem from an assessment of the possible impact of the recent EU and World Bank decisions. Most important, however, is the fact that the EU decision is based on the allegation of Liberia's complicity with the RUF and on the apparently unconvincing denial by the Government of Liberia. While this allegation remains in a crucial sense imprecise, its denial by the Government of Liberia continues to be ineffectively general. In the light of the foregoing, there should be significant merit in efforts to ensure that every aspect of this allegation is examined and addressed openly; perhaps publicly, so that it ceases to be, or be made, the source of tragic consequences."

    Now, what did you understand by those last few sentences, Mr Taylor?

  • What he is conveying here is exactly what we had been pressing his office, and he was under a lot of pressure. I mean, be didn't let this special representative sleep. We were on him 24/7 to do something. What he's really pushing for is exactly what we have been pushing for. Look, you have these allegations. Let's investigate them. Put some mechanism into place. Let's get to the bottom of it. But we cannot get to the bottom of it. All we are getting are accusations, and now we get - these publications became to come out, and they come out from two strategic sources. We get this reference that we're going to come back to, as you said, with President Kabbah.

    Can you imagine? On 19 June the President of Sierra Leone writes me and says, "Guess what my brother?" "What?" "Have you seen what the Washington Post published yesterday about what you're doing in my country?" The Washington Post in Washington DC - sitting in Washington DC would tell you what I'm doing in your country; you're President; you don't know? They have to tell you? You don't know? So it's all this conspiratorial type thing that you write me and tell me, say "The Washington Post said yesterday that you're bringing arms into Liberia." The Washington Post. You're the President sitting there, and you're saying your security are saying. So it's this type of thing we wanted open, we wanted public so we can get to the bottom of it; but we never do. We just never get to that. I guess the die is cast. The decision is taken for the people of Liberia to finally come out on the street and throw me out and everything would be done to cut the lifeblood off from my government, and it is done.

  • "Sadly, tension has been the characteristic feature of Liberia-Sierra Leone relations from the days of Liberian civil war to date. As our first substantive code cables and numerous other ones thereafter should indicate, the focus and energies of UNOL have in large measure been directed towards the reduction of such tensions. A review of exchanges between UNOL and HQ should also confirm that regardless of the proximate genesis of the many manifestations of tension, the allegations of Liberia's complicity with the RUF has always been an underlying factor. That, in turn, has always given rise to counter-accusations by the Government of Liberia that significant numbers of the membership of former faction ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J have been co-opted into the Sierra Leonean security apparatus and these persons, in association with comrades domiciled in Sierra Leone, are engaged in plotting the overthrow of the Government of Liberia.

    This provides the basic background against which the news stories alluded to in paragraph 2 of your code emerged. Those particular stories should no longer be regarded as an indication of tension between Liberia and Sierra Leone. If they were ever such, the tension has been effectively defused. As you will see from the attached newspaper clippings, and as UNOL reported in previous codes, the Government of Liberia has denounced these stories and President Taylor has gone public to state that the views expressed by the ruling National Patriotic Party's Secretary-General, John Whitfield, accusing Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea of harbouring Liberian dissidents, were his own, that is, John Whitfield's, personal views and did not represent the views of the Government of Liberia. Furthermore, according to a press release issued by the Executive Mansion on this matter, President Taylor stated that Liberia enjoyed very warm and cordial relations with all its neighbours and was working hard to improve those relations on a daily basis. It, however, admitted that President Taylor had raised concern over the arming of Sierra Leonean militias loyal to President Kabbah's government but had received assurances that no such arms would fall into the hands of Liberian dissidents based in Sierra Leone. As it has always done, UNOL will continue to alert headquarters about those situations that are truly tension creating with respect to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    The essential aspects of the exchange of letter between Presidents Taylor and Kabbah must also include the likelihood of the re-introduction into the Sierra Leone situation of a potentially volatile factor, Sam Bockarie, also known as Maskita. As indicated in paragraph 7(ii) of the code of 27 January 2000, and paragraph 10 of the code of 22 March 2000, there are indications and reasons to believe that the anti-Taylor or Liberia views could provide President Taylor with plausible reasons for publicly disengaging from everything that smacks of involvement, even constructive involvement, in matters related to Sierra Leone."

    Is that true, Mr Taylor?

  • That is true.

  • So, Mr Taylor, were you considering effectively just washing your hands of the whole Sierra Leone situation?

  • Yes, I was considering doing that. My colleagues finally prevailed upon me not to and even strengthened the mandate, but, like I said, I was - he is discussing the frustration that I have expressed to him on so many occasions and I'd actually threatened - I went to meeting, in fact, starting with the Mano River Union meeting earlier and telling them, you know, this was it, that I wanted to get out, and if these allegations persisted that I would get out, yes.

  • "Admittedly, UNOL's familiarity with the detailed and important aspects of the Sierra Leone situation is quite inadequate. Nevertheless, and even from such a vantage point, UNOL is of the view that Sam Bockarie's return to Sierra Leone (as opposed to Freetown) could have unwanted consequences with respect to what appears to be a void in, or the quest for, the leadership of the RUF."

    Can we pause there. "A void in or the quest for the leadership of the RUF." Bearing in mind, Mr Taylor, this is June 2000, at this time, where is Foday Sankoh?

  • Foday Sankoh is incarcerated by this time.

  • And at this time is there a void in or a quest for the leadership of the RUF?

  • In a way, yes. The RUF is without a leader and we are very concerned. The entire international community, especially ECOWAS, is concerned about this void and we are discussing how to fill the void and we finally do, in a way.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, it is quite clear from the sentiments expressed by the writer, if we go back over the page, "also include the likelihood of the re-introduction, into the Sierra Leonean situation, of a potentially volatile factor: Sam Bockarie." And when we go back over the page, "Sam Bockarie's return to Sierra Leone could have unwanted consequences." Mr Taylor, what was the United Nations' view as to the continued presence of Sam Bockarie in Monrovia? Did they consider it a good idea or a bad idea?

  • No, they considered it a good idea.

  • Were you under pressure to keep him in Liberia, Mr Taylor?

  • A little later on, by this time, there is pressure for him not be kept in Liberia.

  • "The significance of Bockarie's past statements on, and alleged activities regarding Guinea, should be taken into account in the determination of whether or not he should be allowed to return to Sierra Leone any time soon. Also, were he to be allowed to return, it would not be unlikely that his activities could provide a basis, even if circumstantial, for further allegations of Government of Liberia's complicity with the RUF. As you know, there are at present charges to the effect that Bockarie's men are being trained by the Government of Liberia. With all of this, and from the perspective they create, it would not appear that the peace process, Liberia, Sierra Leone or even Guinea would gain anything positive by the return of Bockarie to Sierra Leone.

    How best to keep President Taylor constructively engaged in the peace process.

    The publicity regarding the allegation of Liberia's complicity with the RUF tends to overshadow the contributions which the Government of Liberia and President Taylor have made to the Sierra Leonean peace process. These contributions include President Taylor's role in getting the RUF representatives to Liberia and ensuring their constructive participation in the Lome talks, his positive participation in these talks at critical junctions, the airlifting of Johnny Paul Koroma et al to Monrovia, ensuring that Johnny Paul Koroma and Foday Sankoh bury the hatchet, as well as arranging their joint return to Freetown (as opposed to Sierra Leone, which was the insistent and common demand of these two men). Subsequently, President Taylor established regular, if not weekly, direct communications with President Kabbah. That 'confidence-building measure' seems to have contributed not only to President Kabbah's announcement of the detention or arrest of the 50 Liberian dissidents in Zimmi, but also to President Taylor's decision to deliberately play down the incident. More recently, the release of the detained UNAMSIL personnel is linked directly, if not entirely, to the efforts of President Taylor. It must, therefore, be assumed that these documentably supported facts define what you mean by 'keeping President Taylor constructively engaged'."

    Let's look at that paragraph, Mr Taylor. Now, we're looking there at a list of the positive contributions you made to the peace process in Sierra Leone, aren't we?

  • And they're here being catalogued by the United Nations special representative, aren't they?

  • And yet, despite all your efforts, as the writer states, they were, nonetheless, overshadowed by the various allegations being made about Liberia. That's right, isn't it?

  • And did you have weekly direct communications with President Kabbah?

  • Kabbah and I were in - I would say yes, and even more, yes. Kabbah and I were in constant touch.

  • "It should be made known, however, that during a meeting with the Liberian foreign minister on 15 June 2000, he informed me that, with respect to the release of 460 detained UNAMSIL personnel, the role of the Government of Liberia in assisting the Secretary-General has now been used as a confirmation of its complicity with the RUF."

    You nod, Mr Taylor. Why?

  • That's what they said. After we fought all these years, after we got these people out, they said, "Oh, okay. Fine. You were able to get them out because you are controlling the people." That's what they did.

  • "He, therefore, advised that it would be extremely difficult for Liberia to get involved in any similar situation in the future."

    Was that true?

  • I said it just - nothing worked for us. Nothing worked. The good was turned to bad. So we said, well, look, if we fought - got these people released, even the bodies of these East Africans that had been killed, we demanded that those bodies be exhumed and that they be returned to the people. We did everything, and then only to be told, "You were able to do that because you are controlling them." So why would be want to do anything else again? So I said, "Well, that's it. If anything happens again, I'm out of it. We are not going to get involved. Because now we are only able to accomplish things" - and this is not the view only of the United Nations about what we are doing constructively. This is - I must say that, even with Kabbah's own little playing around that he used to do, because he was under pressure, my colleagues in ECOWAS, and I can say the African Union, never had this view that my activities in Sierra Leone was as described by these two major Western powers. It was not the view of Africa. Not then and not now. But maybe those views don't really count.

  • "This position was emphatically articulated by President Taylor when his foreign minister and I met with him in Gbarnga on 16 June 2000. (That meeting will be the subject of a separate communication).

    Despite the position just described, it would seem that assurances on at least two basic issues would go a long way towards keeping President Taylor constructively engaged. These issues relate to the role of ECOWAS/ECOMOG in Sierra Leone and to the question of rewards for his efforts in Liberia and in the peace process in Sierra Leone. President Taylor's own perspective on these two issues follows:

    ECOWAS/ECOMOG in Sierra Leone.

    1. President Taylor continues to maintain that one of the fundamental problems with respect to the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord is the absence of the visible role of ECOWAS as an overseer. Such an absence, he believes, is deliberate and engineered by non-African states for what he claims to be ulterior and strategic reasons that include his overthrow and the arrest of what is perceived as Nigerian hegemonism."

    Now, we've gone through that before, haven't we, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we have.

  • But this idea to include his overthrow, so this was a sentiment you were communicating to the special representative way back in 2000. Is that right?

  • That's three years before you were eventually forced to step down?

  • You were already prophesying that that was going to happen to you, yes?

  • "As I conveyed to headquarters on 2 November, what the President was driving at became even clearer when he drew attention to the central role of ECOWAS with respect to the Lome Peace Agreement. As he put it, without ECOWAS featuring prominently or in some significant way in the Sierra Leone problematique, one could be faced with a situation where there would not be a reliable and credible entity on which to fall back should the Lome Peace Agreement unravel. In his words, 'Without ECOWAS/ECOMOG, who will follow-up on the Lome Peace Agreement?'

    2. President Taylor's ancillary point on the role of ECOWAS seems to have a bearing on the issue of so-called 'Nigerian hegemonism'. The argument, or perhaps speculation, in that direction relies basically on observations and related deductions on the reasons for ECOMOG's withdrawal from Sierra Leone, which include basically the lack of resources and other required wherewithal. He places that in contradistinction to the comparatively well-equipped and robust UN presence, financed from sources which were made unavailable to a Nigerian-dominated ECOWOG; and conclusion that the 'removal' of ECOWAS/ECOWAS from Sierra Leone was indeed the game play.

    If I understand President Taylor's thinking correctly, his linking of the absence of ECOWAS/ECOMOG to 'ulterior' plans for his overthrow or the destabilisation of Liberia, is somewhat connected to the 'discovery' by ECOMOG of Liberian dissidents in Sierra Leone who are bent on invading Liberia. In this connection, he maintains that the recent re-arming of the Kamajors (which, according to him, comprise a significant number of dissident Liberians) is for the ultimate purpose of destabilising Liberia. This is a point of view which he uses to explain what he believes to be the excessive quantity of arms and war materiel brought into Sierra Leone."

    By whom?

  • We've had evidence led here in this Court by Britain, and we were assured in the letter - remember there's a letter from the ambassador that states that we should have no qualms about the arms, it would be simply used for Sierra Leone. We are concerned. There's a large amount of arms coming into Sierra Leone. The Kamajors are being armed. But, in just a reminder to the Court, the Kamajors that we are talking about - now, remember we talked about Liberians, ex-combatants that had been recruited as far back as 1997 when I was elected as President and I met them. So a part of that whole Kamajor outfit, hundreds of Liberians, ex-ULIMO-J and K. So that's what I'm referring to here.

  • And they're being armed by the British, are you saying?

  • "Rewards for his efforts.

    As indicated in paragraph 10 above, the matter of non-recognition of positive efforts by President Taylor and the Government of Liberia appears to be deeply felt by him and his cabinet in particular. Also, while the letter alluded to in paragraph 2 of your code expresses readiness and willingness to effect the return of Bockarie to Sierra Leone, it also reflects an impatience, if not anger, with what the Government of Liberia openly describes as ingratitude for its effort to remove from the scene, and at considerable expense, an acknowledged impediment in the peace process."

    Were you angry, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. Yes. Frustrated also. Angry and frustrated, yes.

  • "On matters that are essentially domestic, the same impatience and anger can also be detected. It finds expression in the popularly held view among Liberians of diverse backgrounds that Liberia is being unfairly targeted for punitive economic measures which are, in their effects, veiled variations of economic sanctions. Government officials, particularly those in the ministries of planning and finance, are quick to point out that decisions regarding the delaying of assistance to Liberia have emerged by and large on the eve of events that were to be silver linings on the dark economic clouds which hover around Liberia.

    In light of the foregoing, it would appear that President Taylor could be kept constructively engaged if ways and means could be found to effectively support the decisions reached by the last ECOWAS summit, particularly those which seek to give ECOWAS a more prominent role in the Sierra Leone peace process. If the United Nations could prevail on the international community to employ a carrot-and-stick policy in their relations with Liberia, it could begin to build the sort of leverage that yields more results than what is now produced by the present policy of apparently punitive disencouragement. Such an approach, carrot and stick, is also likely to encourage Liberia to stay the course of positive engagement in the Sierra Leone peace process.

    Although two basic issues have been identified with regard to ways of keeping President Taylor constructively engaged in the Sierra Leone peace process, there is, in that regard, a third and all-embracing issue: Liberia's alleged complicity with the RUF, which is also fundamental to this matter for a number of important reasons:

    1. It provides a significant portion of the explanation of the non-recognition or ingratitude that has been touched upon above.

    2. It also creates tremendous suspicion regarding Liberia's offer to contribute troops to the envisaged ECOMOG contingent to Sierra Leone.

    3. That, in turn, makes even more suspect Liberia's advocacy for a prominent ECOWAS role in the Sierra Leone peace process.

    This is, therefore, a matter that must be addressed squarely and transparently, since it has the potential of excluding Liberia from effective participation in the peace process and thereby depriving the sub-region of an arguably needed interlocutor with the RUF.

    There is no denial about President Taylor's association with Foday Sankoh and with the RUF. President Taylor himself has gone public on record to confirm that Liberians are involved, and actively so, in the Sierra Leone crisis."

    Pause there. Now, had you ever denied, Mr Taylor, a link with Foday Sankoh?

  • Had you always acknowledged such a link?

  • I had always acknowledged, as I said here, that short link over a period of close to year with Sankoh, yes. Always.

  • And had you also publicly confirmed the involvement of Liberians in Sierra Leone?

  • Yes. We had publicly said that there were Liberians involved in the crisis in Sierra Leone; that they were Liberians that were not sent there by Charles Taylor or my government. These were Liberians that had gone into Sierra Leone and had been contracted for by previous and so many Sierra Leonean governments. We even went so far earlier than before the publication of this document to grant amnesty under our laws against mercenarism. So we had never said that Liberians were not involved in Sierra Leone. What we had always said was that they were there on their own volition; that they had been hired by succeeding Sierra Leonean governments; and that we would do everything that we can - instead of threatening them with being tried for mercenarism - that would be would grant amnesty. This is it. It has been public.

  • Now, let's have a look now at what the writer goes on to say in this important passage:

    "How such a situation developed, as well as its various ramifications, has been the subject of communications from UNOL to HQ. What appears to be the crucial aspect of this omnibus allegation is that:

    1. The Government of Liberia and/or President Taylor currently provides arms, ammunition, training and personnel to the RUF.

    2. The Government of Liberia and/or President Taylor is able to assist in this manner because the RUF supplies illicitly mined diamonds to the Government of Liberia or President Taylor, who not only sells the gems, but takes a huge percentage of it for personal and other purposes. As such, President Taylor has a vested interest in the continuation of the crisis in Sierra Leone or in the maintenance of a status quo that promises the continuation of 1 and 2 above.

    The basis and evidence for this crucial aspect of the allegation continues to remain unavailable to UNOL. Since headquarters - that is, UN headquarters in New York - has yet to convey such a basis or knowledge of the evidence, it must be presumed that it also remains unavailable to it. Both the British newspaper The Guardian and the American Washington Post have carried stories on this matter and have provided generalised snippets of related information, which only whets the appetite but offers nothing truly substantive."

    Do you see that, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I see it, but that's the indictment. That's the very indictment that we have on me.

  • Now, let's just make sure we all appreciate what is being said by the UN special representative. Now, by this stage, Mr Taylor, how long had Mr Downes-Thomas been in Liberia?

  • We're talking about more than two years already.

  • And were his movements around Liberia restricted in any way, Mr Taylor?

  • Was he free and go and move around as he pleased?

  • Yes. Yes, he had diplomat status, flew the UN flag. There were no restrictions whatsoever.

  • So what he's saying here is he's got no evidence, his headquarters have no evidence, but the newspapers are putting out these snippets of information, but there's nothing truly substantive available: Yes?

  • That is exactly what he's saying, yes.

  • "It would be most useful for all concerned, as well as for their reputations, to have the basis and evidence of this crucial aspect of the allegation made public and let the chips fall where they may."

    Mr Taylor, "as well as for their reputations ... to make it public". Have you ever seen any substantive evidence made public?

  • Well, counsel, no. No, I have not. But isn't this is the appropriate place where they even ought to bring it now? That's the whole basis of this indictment as we have it. I have not seen it then, and I'm praying that I will see it now. I'm in jail. I'm in court. This is where if it was hidden, it should come out now, okay? No, I haven't seen it. I have not.

  • "One of the major arguments for publicising the evidence is that in so doing, the opportunity will be offered to devise ways and means to effectively put an end to the alleged trafficking in a manner that will not visit hardships on innocent citizens. In this connection, the United Nations could usefully prevail on the international community to either:

    1. Financially and technically support the ECOWAS recommended team that is to make an inquiry into the diamond trafficking from Sierra Leone; or,

    2. Recommend that the Security Council undertake, with respect to the Sierra Leone, an investigation along the lines of the Fowler Group on Angola".

    Mr Taylor, what's that, the Fowler Group on Angola?

  • I think there was a panel set up by the United Nations to investigate Angolan diamonds.

  • "Apart from the consideration of credibility, the weight of either the United Nations or ECOWAS, placed four square behind such an investigation or inquiry, is most likely, even during the process, to send the appropriate signal to those involved in the trafficking to significantly reduce their activities or even to halt this illicit trade. This needs to be done quickly if an end has to be placed on this operation which appears to be as Hydra-headed as the RUF."

    And then finally:

    "How should the UN secretariat react to the ECOWAS initiative to lift the arms embargo on Liberia?

    It should be recalled that it was at the insistence of ECOWAS that the Security Council placed an arms embargo on Liberia. Consequently, the role of the secretariat on this matter could be usefully limited to facilitating Mr Lansana Kouyate's mission to New York. The intent of the mission is to convey the collective decision of ECOWAS on this matter to the Security Council. From discussions with the Liberian foreign minister it appears that: (a), very little technical advice would be sought from the secretariat; and (b), the mission is fully aware of the anomalies of the embargo. These include the absence from the regime of review dates or mechanisms, benchmarks, and other stipulations for its termination. Nevertheless, in its discussion with the ECOWAS mission, the secretariat may wish to point out that it might not be prudent to raise this matter at this juncture.

    Best regards."

    Now, before I move on, Mr President, I had omitted to mark for identification, I think, the letter from President Taylor to the United Nations Secretary-General dated 8 June 2000 dealing with the allegations about diamonds. So could I ask for that to be marked for identification, please, MFI-145.

  • Which one was that?

  • It's from yesterday, Mr President.

  • I know the one. It's to Kofi Annan. Is that the one?

  • That's the one, Mr President, yes. Just for reference sake it's behind divider 57 in this bundle that we're looking at now, if we want to remind ourselves of it.

  • That document will be marked for identification MFI-145.

  • And could I ask that the code cable we've just looked at from Felix Downes-Thomas to Prendergast on President Taylor and Sierra Leone, dated 19 June 2000, be marked for identification MFI-146, please.

  • Yes. That document is marked MFI-146.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, at this stage what was the nature of your relationship with the British government?

  • I would say it was very bad. Very bad.

  • Now, was the nature of that relationship a topic of discussion between you and the UN special representative?

  • Yes. After Britain intervened with the EU in being successful in stopping aid to Liberia, the special representative at that time - you know, like I said, we were all devastated. Knowing how these things occur diplomatically, I wrote a letter to my chief of staff formally requesting a meeting with me so we could discuss the issue and find ways of seeing how - what moves we could make to begin to mend fences with the British, because it was apparent that they were bent on destroying me, and so he wanted to see how the UN, and using some diplomatic manoeuvres, we could discuss it and make some overtures to the British.

  • So did you meet with him?

  • Let's have a look behind the next divider, please, divider 61. Let's look at the second page first so we can identify the writer. It's Felix Downes-Thomas, yes?

  • And it's dated 23 June 2000?

  • And if we go back to the first page it's addressed, is it not, to the Honourable Dr Jonathan Taylor, Minister of State For Presidential Affairs and Chef de Cabinet, yes?

  • And it's headed "Britain/Liberia"?

  • "I have been trying to reach you by phone. That has been unsuccessful. I would like to have a brief meeting with the President at his earliest convenience. In that connection, it should be useful for you to know that the issue I wish to bring to the attention of the President relates specifically to British/Liberia relations in the context of the allegation of Government of Liberia complicity with the RUF.

    In that regard, I would like to examine with him ways to obviate what promises to be a drawn out altercation between the two states and to minimise, if not completely arrest, any negative fallouts. My views and suggestions on this matter are principally two-fold:

    1. The perception that the Government of Liberia is the sole defender of Foday Sankoh is not helpful. It could be altered effectively by a justified focus on what the Government of Liberia considers to be a pivotal national concern; that is, the re-arming of the Kamajors and its implications for Liberia and for relations within and among member states of the Mano River Union."

    Now, Mr Taylor, had you been seeking to defend Foday Sankoh?

  • No, no. I had been seeking only to making sure that peace came in Sierra Leone as quickly as possible so I could have this problem off my back and I could get my country running. Never was the purpose of supporting Foday Sankoh. This was the view. That's what they stick on you and make sure it sticks.

  • Because you had earlier indicated to the same writer, Mr Felix Downes-Thomas, your misgivings about Sankoh and his commitment to peace, hadn't you?

  • Definitely. Definitely. I had made that very clear.

  • "2. The Government of Liberia should consider contributing positively to efforts aimed at granting safe passage to the UNAMSIL personnel who are presently encircled by the RUF.

    Concurrent action on 1 and 2 above is likely to pave the way of what could be a very useful meeting between appropriate representatives of Britain and Liberia where all the cards would be placed on the table regarding the allegation of diamond trafficking and gunrunning.

    Against any possibility that it might not be possible for me to meet with the President soon, I have brought these matters to your attention and for discussion with him, given the urgency which I believe is attached to them."

    Did you in due course meet with him, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I did. Yes.

  • Now, you were concerned, as indicated in both this document and earlier documents, about the re-arming of the Kamajors, weren't you?

  • And help us, why was that?

  • Because of the - what we considered a large percentage of that - at that time of being former ULIMO-J and ULIMO-K that had begun the attacks on Liberia. Let's be reminded in April and in August of the previous year we had had two attacks, one in Voinjama and one on Kolahun in that particular areas - that's already in the records - and so we knew that these were Liberians that had been armed through that process that had gone through the Guinean side, because there's a little connect right from Sierra Leone into Guinea and back into Liberia. So we were really concerned about that, yes.

  • And after that last incursion, Mr Taylor - we're now in 2000 - where there any further incursions in 2000?

  • Yes, yes. A major one occurred again. Around about July there was another major - July of 2000 there was another major incursion.

  • Now, let's just look at the timing of this, shall we. On 19 June, as President Kabbah brought to your attention, there's this newspaper article in the Washington Post?

  • That is correct.

  • We then have the freezing of that aid package from EU, yes?

  • We have these concerns being expressed by Felix Downes-Thomas about British-Liberia relations, yes?

  • And all of that has to be looked at in the context of that letter you had received from the British ambassador the previous year indicating that they would be providing lethal weaponry to the Sierra Leonean army, yes?

  • And then in July there is an incursion, you say, from where?

  • Again from Guinea.

  • Now did you write to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about that, Mr Taylor?

  • Usually I did. Yes, I did. I wrote him explaining again this major - in fact, it was a long letter I wrote to the Secretary-General stating that first April attack, the August attack of the previous year and now this attack and asked that - in fact, we asked that it be published as a Security Council document because of the seriousness of it, yes.

  • Have a look behind divider 62, please.

    Now, before we move on can I ask that that note to Dr Jonathan Taylor from Felix Downes-Thomas regarding Britain-Liberia relations be marked for identification, please, MFI-147.

  • Yes, marked MFI-147.

  • Is this the letter, Mr Taylor?

  • We see it's dated 14 July 2000:

    "Mr Secretary-General, I am pleased to present my compliments and to apprise you of the latest developments occurring on the Liberian-Guinean border.

    On 8 July 2000 a group of Liberian dissidents crossed from Guinea and attacked Liberia. This third attack on Liberia occurred in one of our provincial countries, Lofa, where similar attacks also occurred from Guinea on 21 April and 10 August 1999 respectively, to which the Government of Liberia informed you and also registered protest against the Government of the Republic of Guinea to ECOWAS, the OAU and the United Nations.

    These frequent attacks are causing untold suffering and human misery on the Liberian people and tend to pose a threat to the peace and security our sub-region. Moreover, against the background of previous attacks, the government and people of Liberia are left to believe that the latest incident is designed to create insecurity and destabilise the country.

    Mr Secretary-General, Liberia has done its utmost to respect and Honour the protocols of the Mano River Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations in assuring the international community of its resolve to coexist with our neighbours for sustained progress and development of our peoples.

    Needless the say, the continued attacks on Liberia do not augur well for good neighbourliness, given the fact that the Guinean government has allowed its territory to be used as a base for training, arming, and subsequent launching of attacks on the nation and people of Liberia. Evidence in our possession support our assertion that these dissidents have been recently armed with new and modern weapons."

    Armed by who, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, by Britain. The material that we seized, and we published it in the press, had all the markings of the British Ministry of Defence. We called the diplomat corps and showed it to them. These were British armaments.

  • "Furthermore, it is recalled that individuals involved in previous attacks returned to the Republic of Guinea, where they were given, and received, treatment at various medical facilities.

    Mr Secretary-General, as you aware, every sovereign nation is required and expected under international law and convention to protect its territory and to prevent the use thereof as base or conduit for acts of aggression against another sovereign state. International law, as well as the domestic law of Liberia, obligates and permits Liberia, as well as all other countries, the rights to self-defence in the face of apparent and eminent threats to its security and stability.

    The inherent right of a member state and its people to defend themselves against armed attacks and aggression is a fundamental principle of our organisation as guaranteed under Article 51 of the charter of the United Nations.

    These persistent attacks on Liberia, we believe, are precipitated and encouraged by the knowledge these dissident forces have of the existence of the United Nations arms embargo on Liberia, which leaves Liberia vulnerable to such callous and unwarranted attack on its nation and people by dissidents outside of the country.

    Certainly, Mr Secretary-General, you will understand and appreciate the urgency and validity of Liberia's request that the Security Council act so that the United Nations embargo be lifted without delay to allow our nation and people provide for their defence and security needs and prevent a reversal of the peace, stability and democracy that we have achieved."

    Now, before we move on, can I ask, please, that that letter dated 14 July from President Taylor to the Secretary-General be marked for identification MFI-148.

  • That document is marked MFI-148.

  • Now, that attack upon Liberia, Mr Taylor, you raised it, of course, with the Secretary-General, as we've just seen.

  • Now, did you raise it with, for example, the American ambassador?

  • Yes. What we would do, once we did it with the Secretary-General, it was published, in fact, as a Security Council document later on. But we raised it with all the diplomats accredited near Monrovia. In fact, what the US ambassador - we raised it with him, and what he had said - we always accused them of the training purposes and he had said that no, the United States had US marines that were training Guinean regular units in an area of the country called Nzerekore, which is near Liberia, but they felt that these were Guinean regulars and could not account for where those trainees went after their training programme. But this was a training programme for the Government of Guinea.

  • Now, in July, apart from the American ambassador, who you mentioned you spoke to, did you meet with any other representative of the United States government?

  • Within the month of July following this I don't recollect meeting any other official. Because around this time, this is around 18 July, we are preparing for our 26 July celebration and the invitation to Heads of State for the meeting on Sierra Leone and who would become the leader. But I'm more concerned at this particular time with another propagandist document that comes out of Britain, this time by Mark Doyle, who brings up again this arms business out of Sierra Leone and having reports. I don't recall specifically who I meet from the United States government, but we're meeting a lot of people though. But I'm more concerned with 26 July, this Issa Sesay business, and trying to fight off Mark Doyle again with having found proof that Liberia is involved in Sierra Leone.

  • Now, what Issa Sesay business are you talking about, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, before us is the issue of leadership in Sierra Leone; who is in charge. We are still trying to resolve the issue of who is in charge in Sierra Leone and who do we talk to. So I talk to my colleagues, and they agree that I should convene a mini summit in Monrovia to deal with the issue of Issa Sesay and the RUF so we can make absolutely sure the agreement is not thrown away. So I organised this meeting quickly for them to come in about a week later to discuss Sierra Leone and who will be in charge and who can we talk to to make sure that Lome does not get torn up.

  • Do you mean in charge of the RUF or of Sierra Leone?

  • The RUF. Who is in charge in Sierra Leone of the RUF, your Honour.

  • Mr Taylor, you said you discussed it with your colleagues. What colleagues are you referring to?

  • Okay, Mr President. I'm talking about the Committee of Six. Even though we've gotten the hostages released, there is the open question of who is really in charge of the RUF in Sierra Leone. So we decide to convene a meeting in Monrovia to discuss that and really put to rest somebody that will be in charge of the RUF that we could talk to that the peace process will continue; that is, the disarmament and demobilisation should continue.

  • And so you organised this meeting and who attended?

  • We had attending the President of The Gambia, Yahya AJJ Jammeh tended that meeting then; the chairman of ECOWAS then, Alpha Oumar Konare, came to the meeting; the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, came to the meeting; the President of Togo, Gnassingbe Eyadema, attended the meeting; the President of Burkina Faso attended that meeting; and if my recollection is correct, I also think Ivory Coast attended that meeting. And we had decided to invite Issa Sesay back to Monrovia to meet with us, and he came.

  • Now, who was the President of Burkina Faso at the time?

  • And who was the President of Ivory Coast?

  • Ivory Coast - at this particular time they're going through the transitional period - it is still Guei Robert.

  • But was that person at the meeting, the President of the Ivory Coast?

  • Now, help us with the timing of that meeting, Mr Taylor?

  • And was someone present from the RUF?

  • We invited Issa Sesay. Issa Sesay was present for the meeting.

  • And how did he travel to Sierra Leone?

  • The same way. He came by road into Foya, and we flew him to Monrovia to meet all of us. I didn't name myself, but I was present in the meeting.

  • And what happened at the meeting?

  • At that meeting we confronted General Sesay with the proposition that we needed to know who was in charge of the RUF because Foday Sankoh was incarcerated. General Sesay made us to understand that he was the most senior officer, so after we threw it around and we said, "Well, then, of course you are in charge and you will be the new leader. Can we assume that?" He said, "No." He said, "Your Excellencies, it will require two things for me to take over the leadership of the RUF." One, we will have to get approval from what he called a War Council; but, even more importantly, he said that it would take the approval of Foday Sankoh, who - he would have to get the permission from Foday Sankoh to take over at least the interim leadership of the RUF and that he could not make that decision, and he asked that we give him some time to return, consult the War Council, and asked that we find a way to get a message from them to Foday Sankoh. And we accepted that we would be able to get a message in the form of a letter - if a letter was written, that it would be sent to Foday Sankoh, and he did go back and do such a letter, and we moved from there.

  • Now, did Sesay arrive alone, or did he come as part of a delegation?

  • And another detail: Was President Kabbah present at this meeting?

  • No, President Kabbah was not present at this meeting.

  • Well, he was not - Kabbah was not a member of the Committee of Six. This was mostly a Committee of Six meeting on Sierra Leone. So in fact, he's a party to the conflict, so he couldn't be present.

  • And where in Monrovia was the meeting held?

  • At the Executive Mansion in the conference room that I used.

  • And where was Sankoh at this time?

  • Sankoh was incarcerated. He was still being held by the Sierra Leonean government.

  • So how was contact going to be made with him?

  • Well, that a letter would have to be taken to him, and a letter was taken to him by both Obasanjo and Alpha Konare, the chairman of ECOWAS, agreed that they would take the letter. They, following that meeting about a week or so later, flew into Sierra Leone with the letter from Issa Sesay; that they met with Tejan Kabbah; Foday Sankoh was brought to that meeting; he received the letter; approved the interim leadership of Issa Sesay; and that was brought back; and Issa Sesay subsequently returned to Liberia for the confirmation of his interim leadership of the RUF.

  • When the meeting took place in Monrovia, Mr Taylor, did President Kabbah know: One, that such a meeting was occurring and; two, the purpose of the meeting?

  • Yes, yes. He knew, definitely. Definitely.

  • And who do you say conveyed the letter to Sankoh?

  • The chairman of ECOWAS at the time, Alpha Oumar Konare, along with the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, flew into Freetown and met with Sankoh while he was incarcerated during that period. That would be about - I would put that meeting to about the first week of August, they met with Sankoh with Kabbah in Freetown, delivered the letter to Sankoh. The two Presidents did.

  • Mr Griffiths, despite what that clock says we've got much less than two minutes of time left. I think the clock is running slow.

  • Very well. That's as good a point as any.

  • All right. We will resume at 12 noon.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, Mr Taylor. Before we adjourned we were dealing with the appointment of Issa Sesay as interim leader of the RUF.

  • That is correct.

  • Now, you told us, Mr Taylor, that the initial meeting took place on 26 July.

  • And at that meeting, remind us, who was present apart from yourself?

  • We had the Presidents of The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo. I do recall that I mentioned earlier that Ivory Coast did not attend. These were the five states, and I made six.

  • Now, Bockarie - sorry. Sesay at that stage said: Firstly, he would need to consult with the War Council, is that correct?

  • Secondly, he would want Foday Sankoh's sanction first?

  • That is correct. That's what he said at that meeting, yes.

  • And it was decided that a letter would be taken to Sankoh?

  • Who wrote the letter?

  • Issa Sesay, to the best of my knowledge, wrote the letter.

  • And who took it to Sierra Leone?

  • The chairman of ECOWAS, Alpha Oumar Konare and the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

  • And how did they travel to Sierra Leone?

  • They flew, I think, on the Nigerian President's plane. They flew into Sierra Leone.

  • And where did they meet Mr Sankoh?

  • They met him in Freetown. I was not present. I don't know the precise location, but they met him in Freetown along with President Kabbah.

  • And Sankoh then approved his appointment?

  • Now, the letter that was written by Issa Sesay, did you see that letter, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I saw the letter. I had a copy of the letter.

  • Was it a typed document, or what?

  • No, it was a handwritten document by Issa Sesay. Handwritten.

  • Let us have a look behind divider 76 in this volume, please. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I do.

  • Is this the letter, Mr Taylor?

  • Just one minute. Yes, this is the letter.

  • Now, I have caused to be distributed a better copy of this. Does everyone have the better?

  • Yes, we have that, thank you, Mr Griffiths.

  • Because the original was rather illegible.

  • Now, let's see if we can make sense of this letter, Mr Taylor. We see it's dated 1 August 2000, top right-hand corner.

  • "RUF. Dear Papay, We greet you in the name of Allah and the revolution, and the high command of the RUFP. Your children are still committed and loyal to you and the revolution. In this respect, and all honour bestowed upon you, we held a general forum inviting all senior commanders and officers of the RUFP" - I am having difficulty with that word - "when we came to a final decision for the revolution to still be moving, both politically and militarily, until your release from detention; that Brigadier General Issa Sesay will head the RUFP as interim leader until your return and all instructions should be taken from him, both politically and military for the success of the RUFP until you are released, which we are all praying for. We would like to inform you about such development and your advice and instruction, which will be carried out fully through the high command of the RUFP. We hope upon your release you will meet the revolution more strong, both militarily and politically. We wish you well and hope to see you in good health on your return, when we are trying to exploit all means for your release through the diplomatic channel which we are presently going through. We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon."

    It is signed and then we see, "Your children of the revolution, signed on behalf of the high command of the RUFP", and then we see the word "interim ".

  • Was this the letter, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the letter that Obasanjo and Konare took from Sesay to Foday Sankoh while he was in custody in Freetown, yes.

  • And how do you come to have a copy of the letter?

  • I was supplied a copy by the RUF after this letter went to Sankoh. Obasanjo had a copy, Konare had a copy.

  • Mr Griffiths, who signed this letter?

  • It is signed by - we can't see the signature, but it is signed by Issa, the interim leader. Where you see it up there - but you can't really. This copy is not quite clear. Maybe --

  • Where do you see a signature, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, I see some markings between "decision" and here. The signature is in here, but I know it's Issa because I was told that Issa signed the letter as interim leader. That's contestable, but I was told that Issa signed it as interim leader.

  • Now, can I ask that that document be marked for identification, please.

  • Document is marked for identification MFI-149.

  • Now, following the decision by Sankoh to appoint Sesay - General Sesay as the interim leader, Mr Taylor, was that decision made public?

  • That decision was finally made public after the Heads of State - two of them - after Konare and Obasanjo returned, we discussed Sankoh's agreement by phone. They did not come back to Liberia, because this is all happening around the first week now in August when this happens. They go and we arrange for a meeting to be held three weeks later. They come back to Liberia, and both Alpha Konare - that's what I mean by "they" - and Obasanjo late - about around about the 21st, 22nd, somewhere of August, for the formal confirmation and we invite Issa Sesay back to Liberia. That confirmation is done, and there is a press statement done at that particular time at Roberts International Airport where the three Heads of State meet. The formal announcements are made. There are press reports, and a press release is done by the RUFP at that particular time.

  • Did you have a copy of that press report in your archives?

  • Yes, I did. It's - they call it - a press communique, they call it.

  • Have a look behind divider 74, please.

    Can I inquire, Mr President, did I ask for the letter - the handwritten letter to be marked for identification?

  • Yes, that is MFI-149.

  • Now, is this the press communique, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, this is the press communique as done by the RUFP following that situation.

  • Now, we see handwritten at the top "Presidential Papers 2000"; whose handwriting is that?

  • That could be one of my staff personnel where they are going to make this a part of our publication.

  • Of the presidential papers, yes?

  • "Press communique.

    Press communique issued by the Revolutionary United Front, RUF, following a meeting with His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, President of the Republic of Mali and Chairman of ECOWAS; His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, August 21, 2000."

    Now, this meeting, Mr Taylor, you say, took place at Roberts International Airfield?

  • That is correct.

  • And the three Presidents named here were present?

  • Yes, and the spokesperson was there too.

  • Whose spokesperson?

  • At that time they were using a fellow called - Gibril Massaquoi was also present.

  • He was also present, Gibril Massaquoi?

  • Now let's look at this:

    "The high command of the RUF today met with His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, President of Mali and Chairman of ECOWAS; His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and His Excellency Dankpannah Dr Charles Ghankay Taylor, President of the Republic of Liberia.

    The meeting was a sequel to the one held in Monrovia on 26 July 2000 and the high command's letter dated 1 August 2000 to the chairman Foday Sankoh on developments connected with the peace process in Sierra Leone."

    Now, we have just looked at that letter, haven't we?

  • That is correct.

  • Dated 1 August, and you have already mentioned this initial meeting on 26 July, yes?

  • "His Excellency President Konare and His Excellency President Obasanjo brought a handwritten and signed reply to our letter addressed to chairman Foday Sankoh. We are convinced that the letter, which confirmed Brigadier General Issa Sesay as the interim leader of the RUF is authentic.

    As the high command of the RUF, we are fully appreciative of the advice provided to us by the three ECOWAS Presidents and we pledge our readiness to cooperate with ECOWAS in the achievement of lasting peace in Sierra Leone.

    The RUF cherishes the hope that the government of President Tejan Kabbah will fulfil its total obligations under the Lome Accord.

    We welcome the decision of His Excellency President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to release about 171 of our comrades in detention in various cities in Sierra Leone as a mark of confidence building and in the new spirit of peace in our country.

    As a mark of our sincerity, and in reciprocity, we have also decided to release, as early as arrangements can be made with UNAMSIL field commanders, the equipment captured by our fighters.

    Furthermore, the RUF high command calls for the early deployment of UNAMSIL troops from the sub-region in our areas of operation in Sierra Leone and assures of our readiness to cooperate with them in order to ensure the success of the DDR programme in particular and the peace process in general as mandated in the Lome Peace Accord.

    The high command expresses gratitude to all the leaders of ECOWAS. In particular to Presidents Alpha Konare, Olusegun Obasanjo and Charles Taylor for their untiring efforts in bringing durable peace and stability to our dear country Sierra Leone.

    Done in Monrovia, Liberia, this 21st day August AD 2000."

    Whose signature follows that, Mr Taylor?

  • That's Issa Sesay's.

  • Before we move away from this document, the third paragraph on that second page, Mr Taylor, "We have decided to release the equipment captured by our fighters", yes?

  • Were you and the other Presidents involved in bringing about that decision?

  • Yes, we discussed it with them and told them that they had to release the equipment.

  • Now, was this the equipment which had been seized from the UNAMSIL troops who had been held hostage?

  • That is correct.

  • Where Kabbah had been asking for not merely their physical release, but also the return of their equipment?

  • So this is the equipment we are talking about?

  • Now, before we move on can I ask, please, that this document be marked for identification. So it's the press communique issued by the RUF regarding the appointment of Issa Sesay as interim leader, dated 21 August 2000.

  • Yes, that document is marked for identification MFI-150.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, there are two matters that I want to deal with before we leave this topic - well, three matters. Firstly, was President Kabbah kept abreast of all of these developments regarding the appointment of Sesay as the interim leader?

  • Kabbah was fully kept abreast and we know how. He was informed from the initial discussion. Kabbah received the chairman of ECOWAS Alpha Konare and Obasanjo in Freetown. He, Kabbah, brought Foday Sankoh to the meeting. He was there when Sankoh read the letter from the RUFP and approved Issa Sesay as interim leader. So he knew. Every step of the way, he knew.

  • The other matter I want to ask you about because I want to understand clearly what the situation is, you told us yesterday, Mr Taylor, that your first meeting with Issa Sesay took place in May 2000 with regard to the release of the UNAMSIL peacekeepers. Is that right?

  • That is right.

  • The next meeting takes place, am I right, on 26 July?

  • He returns again in early August?

  • Late August. What date in August?

  • About the 21st we have this meeting.

  • Okay. So is it correct that that would be his third visit to Monrovia?

  • So May, 26 July, 21 August, yes?

  • Does he come back to Monrovia thereafter?

  • On how many occasions?

  • Depending on the situation. I can't be sure on the exact numbers, but I am sure between - you know, if there's a crisis he would come, but I would say a few times before the end of the year.

  • So May, July, late August, yes?

  • During that period, three trips?

  • Now, in light of that, Mr Taylor, I now want to ask you, or put to you for your comment, testimony given before this Court on 2 September 2008 by TF1-338, okay?

  • Because I want you to have an opportunity to comment on the account given by that witness of these meetings with Sesay. Do you understand me?

  • Yes, I do.

  • 2 September 2008 in an open session, and I begin at page 15141, the witness was asked this question by counsel opposite, Ms Hollis:

    "Q. Now, just to be clear, can you tell us in what month

    in 2000 this trip occurred?

    A. The first trip was in May that we brought materials."

    Now, Mr Taylor, was Sesay given any materials by you in May when he came to discuss the release of the UNAMSIL peacekeepers?

  • "Q. And again, Mr Witness, I wanted to remind you that we

    are in open session, so when you give your answers, please

    do not indicate in any way your identity. Now, Mr Witness,

    in 2000, did Issa Sesay travel any other times outside of

    Sierra Leone?

    A. Yes.

    Q. And when was the next trip that he made outside of

    Sierra Leone?

    A. It was at the end of May.

    Q. Where did he go?

    A. He went to Liberia, Monrovia.

    Q. And why did he go there?

    A. According to him, he went there because Charles Taylor

    had invited him to discuss how to be able to release the

    United Nations peacekeepers.

    Q. How did he travel to Monrovia?

    A. He used a vehicle from Koidu to Foya and from Foya he

    flew using helicopter to Monrovia.

    Q. And do you know what kind of helicopter he used?

    A. It was the same Weasua helicopter he had used."

    Is that true?

  • No, he used an ATU helicopter.

  • Sorry to ask this question totally out of ignorance, is this Weasua not a type of helicopter?

  • No, your Honour. Weasua here is an air transport company registered in Liberia. It's called the Weasua Air Transport company, your Honour. They do have - they did have a helicopter that the UN used to lease from them from time to time.

  • Mr Taylor, how many times did Issa Sesay come to Monrovia in May 2000?

  • Once Issa Sesay came, and if you read this as I am looking at the statement, he says he came in May and the end of May. So sometimes these boys don't even know what they're talking. But he came in May upon my invitation. Once in May, returned, released all the hostages and, like I said, came back in July. He did not come twice in May, no.

  • Because, let's just be clear, this witness is saying, the first trip was in May that we brought materials. And he is then asked when was the next trip and he says the end of May, which suggests two trips in May. Did that happen, Mr Taylor?

  • That did not happen. Issa Sesay came once on my invitation in May. Once.

  • Now, the same witness goes on to say, and this is at page 15143, and the learned justice, Judge Sebutinde, asked my learned friend opposite, Ms Hollis, this question: "Should we for not take it that this is not hearsay evidence at least?" Ms Hollis's response was: "Your Honours, for now, you should take it that much of this evidence is not hearsay." The witness is then asked this question:

    "Q. Let me go back to my question. What happened when

    Issa Sesay arrived in Monrovia?

    A. He arrived in Monrovia because he said Charles Taylor

    had invited him to negotiate the release of the UN

    peacekeepers and when he got there, Benjamin Yeaten picked

    him up and took him to the Congo Town guesthouse."

    Pause there. Did he stay at the guesthouse?

  • Oh, yes. Issa Sesay would stay at the RUF guesthouse, yes.

  • Was he taken there by Benjamin Yeaten?

  • I really don't know who would have picked him up to take him there. It very well could have been Benjamin, but I wouldn't know the details of that.

  • "Q. And just to be clear, what guesthouse are you speaking

    of?

    A. We had a guesthouse in Congo Town which was rented

    by Charles Taylor for the leader who would come from the

    peace accord.

    Q. And what happened after Issa Sesay arrived at this

    guesthouse?

    A. It was at night around ten to 11 that Benjamin Yeaten

    came to receive him and took him to Charles Taylor at the

    Executive Mansion, Charles Taylor's place."

    Was he taken to the Executive Mansion at ten to 11 at night?

  • No, he would not be taken there at that time, no, because I didn't meet with the leaders at that time, no.

  • It continues, page 15144:

    "Q. Mr Witness, what happened when Issa Sesay arrived to

    meet with Charles Taylor?

    A. They discussed the release of the United Nations

    peacekeepers, those that they had arrested.

    Q. And what was that discussed?

    A. Charles Taylor said that the United Nations was after

    him to talk to the RUF to release the UN peacekeepers. He

    said because he had even been promised that if he

    spearheaded the release of the UN peacekeepers, he would be

    made the ECOWAS Chairman."

    Did you say that, Mr Taylor?

  • Total nonsense. The ECOWAS chairmanship is not determined by vote, so it has a rotating style. We have three groups in ECOWAS: Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and it changes every year. From Anglophone it comes to Francophone, Lusophone, and back. It doesn't call for any good deal or somebody says, "Oh, you take it." It doesn't work - he's talking to the - he doesn't know what he is talking about. Total nonsense. That's not the way ECOWAS works. That's a lie.

  • "Q. And what else was discussed during this meeting?

    A. He discussed that he should help to release the UN

    peacekeepers that he had under - that he had with him.

    That was Issa. And so if Issa released him, he will help

    Issa in the struggle."

    Did you say that?

  • No, how would I say - no, never said that. But I am not sure if this witness - is this witness in the meeting?

  • Well, from the suggestion at the top that this is not hearsay, it would suggest that he was.

  • Well, when I met Issa Sesay - in fact, even when Issa Sesay met with the Heads of State, the individual that was present in the meeting has not testified before this Court. The only person that met with us with Issa Sesay in that meeting or met with me was the very - he is a very smart, educated boy. I think he has a little bit of education, a fellow called Gibril Massaquoi was present. But none of the little boys were in that meeting. Only Gibril Massaquoi was present, even when we met the Heads of State. So he cannot be in this meeting, no.

  • Now, let's be clear, Mr Taylor, because we want to be sure what it is you are telling us. This witness is talking about the initial meeting in May with regard to the release of the peacekeepers, yes?

  • That's what I am talking about, yes.

  • Now, first of all, was your meeting with Issa Sesay, on the occasion you tell us in May, at the Executive Mansion?

  • Was it late at night?

  • Help us. What kind of time of day did the meet take place?

  • This meeting took place, I would say - Issa Sesay arrived in the evening, slept. The next morning I met with him and his spokesperson. I remember that very clearly.

  • And the spokesperson was who?

  • Gibril Massaquoi. So this person is talking - this is hearsay. The - only Issa Sesay and this gentleman, I remember him very well, he is somewhat educated from the way he spoke, but that was the only person with Issa Sesay in that meeting.

  • This is the meeting about the release of the peacekeepers, Mr Taylor?

  • How many people are actually in the room?

  • I, as President, I am in the room. If I am not mistaken, my chief of staff is also present in the room with Issa Sesay and a fellow called Gibril Massaquoi.

  • It says:

    "A. If Issa released him, he will help Issa in the

    struggle.

    Q. And was it discussed in what way Charles Taylor would

    help Issa in the struggle?

    A. He said he would help him by - with anything that he

    asked for because he had been promised to become the ECOWAS

    chairman."

    Is that true?

  • That is a total lie. That's a lie.

  • Mr Taylor, just tell us: As best you can recollect, how did the meeting actually go, this first meeting with Issa Sesay?

  • I met Issa Sesay. He impressed me as a fairly reasonable young man. I told him - in fact, it was almost like a delivery of the position of the international community regarding the issue of these hostages. It was very blunt; it was very clear. Issa talked about the problems of the attacks. He talked about some of the difficulties that they were having, but I made it very clear to him that, look, all of these problems can be looked at by ECOWAS, and I am prepared to bring your concerns at the next meeting to Heads of State. But what is important now that the international community wants and must have, these men must be released unconditionally. These were my clear words to Issa Sesay.

  • Mr Taylor, did you see it as a negotiation, or did you see it as the statement of a position?

  • I would say both. I would say both. We made the position very clear, but I was careful that it did not - that it did not appear as though that these were threats that were - this is this. It was a very - what we call a very clear, sound statement, but we made it - I made it very clear to them that we were prepared to listen to their concerns, but the issue of the release was not negotiable. Yes, that's what I mean by "both".

  • Did you make a deal with him: If you release the hostages, I will help you as, as suggested, anything that he asked for?

  • Categorically, no. Never, never, never made a deal, and would not have and could not have made a deal. I was not speaking from a - listen, I was not speaking from a weak position. I was speaking from a very, very strong position; not just as President of Liberia, I was speaking as the principal mediator. I had at my back ECOWAS, the African Union, and the full force of the United Nations. So I was not negotiating. I made it very clear, but I also said that we were prepared to listen to whatever concerns that they had and I would take it to the next meeting of ECOWAS leaders.

  • "Q. And what happened after that discussion?

    A. After the discussion Issa accepted, and from there he

    went back to his lodge where he was in Congo Town. And

    when he got there, he had a radio - the VHS radio that he

    had with him. He communicated directly at the base,

    telling them to prepare the Zambian peacekeepers and bring

    them to the riverside.

    Q. And what happened after that?

    A. After that the following day he himself got into the

    helicopter and flew to Foya, and he was in Foya himself and

    Benjamin Yeaten and sent someone to go and receive the

    first convoy in Pendembu, Manowa crossing point, and bring

    them to Foya."

    Pause. As far as you are aware, Mr Taylor, did Sesay communicate with the RUF on a radio from the guesthouse?

  • I am sure, yes. I am sure he had to. There was a radio - remember, I have said - at we had installed at the guesthouse, a long-range radio for communication. I do not know when he communicated, but there was a radio and he should have communicated. I was not present there, but I am sure - at that meeting at the mansion he said that he would order the release of the hostages and that that process would be begin. But it's good that this witness mentions this, because if you go back to page 15144, he says something interesting there. He says that he communicated that the people should be brought. That's what I mentioned to this Court earlier.

    All systems were in place, and these people were supposed to be brought to Spriggs Payne Airport. UN personnel are in place at the airport so if a deal is struck, that there can be movement of these people. So it brings to focus the point that this is not a deserted airstrip where some other witness said that ammunitions are being - that we have ammunition being loaded on the plane. So this process is happening fast, but let there be no mistake: We anticipate this, and the UN has every system in place in preparation for this, including the helicopters to fly them back to Freetown with their personnel. They have brought personnel in on ground to handle this movement of the personnel once they are received. So I am glad he mentions that part.

  • And help us with another detail. The witness mentions that Sesay flew to Foya with Benjamin Yeaten; is that true?

  • I don't know. It could be true. I am not sure who went back with him. I really don't know. I can't help you with that. It's possible that Benjamin - they were good friend and Benjamin was responsible for his security, and because of the movement of these UN people, it's possible that Benjamin could have gone. Because the ministry of defence is also involved here, so I don't see why he doesn't mention defence ministry people, because the ministry of defence was involved in this evacuation too. So I am not sure who exactly went on the helicopter.

  • Now continuing with the testimony of this witness:

    "Q. Now, when Issa Sesay traveled in this helicopter to

    Foya, did he take anything with him?

    A. He did not go with anything.

    Q. Now, what happened after these peacekeepers were - the

    Zambians were brought to Foya?

    A. When they were brought to Foya, they airlifted them to

    Monrovia to meet with Charles Taylor."

    Pause. When they were released Mr Taylor, did you meet with the peacekeepers?

  • But how this - how would he know? How - these are the type of things that destroy people. How - if this little person, whoever he is, is on the helicopter with his boss, Issa Sesay, they have flown to Foya, and he has the nerve now to say that when we are brought to Foya, they airlifted them to Monrovia to meet with Charles Taylor. How does he know? That's why these boys just talk nonsense. How does he know? How does he know?

  • I did not meet with them. I did not. He doesn't know.

  • Who took custody of them after they were brought to Foya, Mr Taylor?

  • These people came to Foya. A United Nations chopper was flown to Foya, took them and flew them straight to the airport in Monrovia at Spriggs Payne Airport. I did not meet them in little pieces and groups and different things. No, I didn't meet them.

  • "Q. And what did Issa Sesay do after that?

    A. After that he crossed back into Sierra Leone.

    Q. When Issa Sesay went from Foya back into Sierra Leone,

    did he take anything with him?"

    Second time he is asked the same question.

    "A. He did not take anything with him.

    Q. Did Issa Sesay travel outside of Sierra Leone at any

    other time in 2000?

    A. Yes, in 2000, July, he travelled to Liberia again.

    Q. And to what location in Liberia did he travel?

    A. He came to Monrovia.

    Q. Why did he travel to Monrovia in July of 2000?

    A. Well, sometime in July, while we were in Koidu Town,

    Charles Taylor invited Issa Sesay to go with a delegation.

    He said they had an occasion in Liberia, so they should go

    and celebrate that occasion. So Issa went with his

    delegation to meet him."

    Pause. Breaking it down into pieces, firstly, the invitation to Issa Sesay to come to Monrovia in July, who did that come from?

  • It came from me.

  • Yes, not to come and celebrate with me. Issa Sesay was no President to come and celebrate with me. He was told that the ECOWAS delegation were coming and the Heads of States were coming and wanted to meet with him, and he should come. He was not invited to come and celebrate with me.

  • Now, of course, Mr Taylor, Independence Day in Liberia is when?

  • Now, had you invited him to come to those celebrations?

  • Did he come with a delegation?

  • "Q. How did Issa and his delegation travel to Monrovia?

    A. They took a vehicle from Koidu Town and travelled to

    Foya and from Foya they were airlifted to Monrovia."

    Is that true?

  • Yes. This is the rainy season. The roads are terrible, impassable and to cut short the travel time, that would take maybe seven or eight hours to travel from Foya to Monrovia, they would just hop them from Foya straight to Monrovia and back.

  • "Q. And you said they were airlifted. What type of

    aircraft was used to air lift them?

    A. It was Weasua that took them."

    True or false?

  • What helicopter took them?

  • "Q. And what happened when Issa Sesay and his delegation

    arrived in Monrovia?

    A. When Issa Sesay and his delegation arrived in Monrovia,

    I can still recall the date, July 26. When they arrived

    there, around 4 o'clock, they were taken to the Executive

    Mansion, sixth floor, to Charles Taylor."

    Is that true?

  • That is not true. That is not true.

  • What's untrue about it?

  • In the first instance the part that is not true is the floor. It says sixth floor. These are all bedrooms on the sixth floor. My office is on the fourth floor. They are taken to the fourth floor at my office where the Presidents were.

  • And were they taken straight from the airport to the Executive Mansion?

  • I am not sure. I am not sure. I would suspect that they probably arrived a little earlier and probably went, maybe showered and changed because they were coming to meet the Heads of State and they had to probably get properly attired. So I would doubt if they were just taken straight to us coming from the bush, without taking a shower and all that kind of stuff. So I would surmise they probably came a little earlier.

  • "A. When they went there, they met other four Heads of

    State and Charles Taylor at the mansion ground.

    Q. And who were these other four Heads of State who were

    there with Charles Taylor at the mansion ground?

    A. They met Obasanjo, who was the former President of

    Nigeria, and we had Eyadema, Yahya Jammeh, and they also

    met Oumar Konare who they said was the Malian President."

    Pause. How many Presidents were present, Mr Taylor?

  • Can you name them for us?

  • Yes. These four, plus - he left Blaise Compaore out.

  • And of course, yourself?

  • "Q. Mr Witness, you mentioned Eyadema. Who is Eyadema?

    A. Eyadema was the Togolese President. Sorry, he was the

    Gambian President.

    Q. And who was Yahya Jammeh?

    A. Eyadema was the Togolese President and Yahya Jammeh was

    the Gambian President.

    Q. And what happened at this meeting?

    A. When they entered the place, Charles Taylor welcomed

    them and introduced Issa's delegation to other delegations

    who had been there already, the four Presidents. That he

    had invited Issa's delegation, that he invited everybody to

    come and celebrate that occasion and to change the RUF

    leadership."

    Pause. How many members of the RUF met with the six Presidents who were present?

  • To my recollection, as far as I remember, there were only two individuals, Sesay and Massaquoi. There was nobody else that was in that room from the RUF delegation.

  • And was there any other delegation present apart from the RUF delegation?

  • There was no other delegation, but I think he is referring to the Heads of State as a delegation. There was no other delegation. No other delegation.

  • And the witness says, "He invited everybody to come and celebrate that occasion". Which occasion? What was the occasion for celebration?

  • I don't know what occasion he is saying that they were invited to celebrate. 26 July is the independence of Liberia and we used this occasion to hold this meeting. Issa Sesay, as the leader of the RUF, was not invited by me to attend the 26 July celebrations. He was invited and he was told a week before this that he will be coming to meet with the Heads of State present to determine and decide this issue of the leadership of the RUF since Sankoh was incarcerated.

  • Now, you say that, as best you recall, there were only two members of the RUF in the meeting, but do you know how many people accompanied Issa from Sierra Leone?

  • No, I do not. I do not. Because of the size of the helicopter - an Mi-2 is a very small helicopter. Assuming that the two pilots, they could not coming to Monrovia - there could not have been more than five persons on his delegation coming on that helicopter because when you add the pilot and the security. So reaching Monrovia, most of the people that came probably stayed in Foya because the vehicles did not drive to Monrovia. They stayed in Foya. So I would just say, just from the size of the chopper, that he could not have brought more than five persons, including maybe his chief of security and one or two other persons.

  • "Q. And what happened then?

    A. From there the Nigerian President Obasanjo was the

    first person who talk to the delegation."

    Was he?

  • No, Obasanjo was not the first. In a case like this, the chairman of ECOWAS would speak first.

  • And what did he say?

  • Well, exactly what we had been discussing, that they had come and remember Alpha Konare was one of the two individuals, so he was not strange to Issa. Remember, they had met with Issa to get this letter to take to Sankoh. So they expressed what we all - what the whole international community was concerned about, who is in charge? Who do we talk to? These kinds of problems come up. Who do we get? We need somebody that will be in charge at least at an interim level while Sankoh is incarcerated. What do we do? Are you the one in charge? This is when he said, "No, Your Excellencies, I am not fully in charge. I am the commander but I am not the leader."

  • Now, according to the witness, Obasanjo is the first to talk and he says that what Obasanjo said at that meeting was this, Mr Taylor:

    "He" - that is Obasanjo - "also thanked the delegation that had come from the RUF end and told them that they were to continue with the good relationship that they had with Charles Taylor."

    Did Obasanjo say that?

  • This boy is dealing with hearsay. I don't know the exact word of Obasanjo. This is 1999. But Obasanjo would have probably told him you all need to keep working with ECOWAS. I don't know the exact words, and I doubt if he knows because he was not there.

  • Let me give you the full content of what he claims Obasanjo said:

    "He thanked the delegation that had come from the RUF end and told them that they were to continue with the good relationship that they had with Charles Taylor. He said, because Charles Taylor was doing good things to them, and he continued saying that Charles Taylor was a good leader. If Africa could only get ten of his type, then the unity Africa is fighting for, they will be able to achieve it."

    Do you recollect anything like that being said?

  • Not to my recollection. I don't recollect - I mean, these great accolades. I don't recall Obasanjo saying these exact words. He may have said that President Taylor is doing a great job, like they always commend me, but I don't recall these exact words from Obasanjo.

  • "Q. And what happened after that?

    A. After that, Oumar Konare also spoke but he spoke in

    French that I couldn't understand and Eyadema also spoke in

    French and from there, Yahya Jammeh too spoke.

    Q. And what did Yahya Jammeh say?

    A. Yahya Jammeh also thanked the RUF delegation and he

    said it was Charles lord who had invited them to come and

    talk to the RUF delegation for them to have a new

    leadership so that they will be able to carry on with the

    peace process so peace and stability will return to

    Sierra Leone. He said he himself, the same thing had

    happened to him when he overthrew in Gambia. People spoke

    to him to transform his organisation to a political party

    and that was what he did. And at that time, he was ruling

    in Gambia as a young man. So if the RUF took that

    initiative to have a young leader who would be able to

    carry on with the process, then they would achieve their

    objective."

    Do you recall Yahya Jammeh saying anything to that effect, Mr Taylor?

  • Yahya Jammeh did talk about his own experiences in The Gambia, but this French that Alpha Konare is speaking and Eyadema, how does he understand this French if there is not an interpreter? I don't see anything - maybe the questions didn't go then. I mean, this man spoke in French, he says he doesn't understand French, so how did he hear what Eyadema said? How did he hear what Konare said? So normally if these people spoke in French if he was in this meeting he should have known that there was an interpreter, so then he should be able to interpret what these other Presidents say. Do you see the point I am trying to drive at?

    This man is - I know how these children behave. They go to a meeting, come back. Their chief, their bosses sit down and explain to them what happened and they just make a long story as though they were there. Well, how did he understand this French?

  • "Q. What happened after that?

    A. After that, Charles Taylor himself said that it was

    necessary to change the leadership of the RUF because he

    said Foday Sankoh was too old and that he was too stubborn

    and he was always being arrested and that he was a lazy

    leader so that he should be changed. It was necessary that

    he been changed."

    Did you say that?

  • I wouldn't say anything so stupid to Issa. I know the relationship between Issa and Sankoh. That alone would have spoiled the whole programme. I wouldn't say anything. When you started insulting the man's leader, saying he is too old and too stubborn and too stupid, I am not that stupid to do that. So I didn't say any such thing.

    I did say in that meeting that there was a problem of a void in leadership and that we could not let the agreement stop, that we needed somebody to talk to.

  • He then goes on: "Augustine Gbao and Issa emphasised that, no, that shouldn't happen." Was Augustine Gbao present?

  • I don't recall Augustine Gbao being present.

  • Who do you recall being present, Mr Taylor?

  • Gibril Massaquoi. I recall Gibril very well.

  • "But Charles Taylor spoke with them to listen to what the leaders were telling them. So they went on and appointed Issa." Was Issa anointed as leader at that meeting?

  • But even the evidence that we have led, no, he was not appointed leader at that meeting. That's why Issa had to go back, the letters had to be written, the letter had to be taken by Obasanjo and Konare to Freetown. And when is Issa appointed? 21 August, almost a month after this meeting. Almost a month.

    Because Issa made it very clear in that meeting that he could not accept the leadership at that particular place and claim that he was the leader, that he needed the blessing of the War Council and Sankoh himself. That's why it took almost a month to settle all of these things, but he was the principal --

  • And, Mr Taylor, the witness himself at page 15146 recalls the date as being 26 July?

  • And we have seen the letter and that bears the date 1 August. And then we have the communique dated 21 August, don't we?

  • The witness goes on:

    "First he" - that is you, Mr Taylor - "suggested that he

    would want to take Mosquito back, and Issa said no. And he

    said, 'Ah, but Issa, if you would take care as a commander

    as a leader.' Then Issa said except if he returned and

    informed the RUF family, he said, because RUF was a

    family."

    Now, did you suggest that Mosquito be taken back?

  • No, I did not suggest that.

  • What was your knowledge of the relationship between Mosquito, that is, Sam Bockarie, and Issa Sesay?

  • Oh, there was - they had problems. From the issue involving the - what they call disrespect to Sankoh back in 1999 that led to Issa coming - I mean, excuse me, Sam Bockarie leaving Sierra Leone, they had problems. In fact, Issa was very, very close to Sankoh and I have no proof, but it was even believed that Issa was some distant relative to Sankoh. I have no proof of that, but Issa was extraordinarily close to Sankoh and there was no love between Issa and Sam Bockarie.

  • And let's just analyse that a little further, shall we. Here is a meeting designed to find a leader for the RUF, yes?

  • In order to promote the peace process and, according to this witness, you are seeking to inject into that equation Mosquito, who had had problems with the same organisation?

  • That is correct.

  • Do you see any sense in that, Mr Taylor?

  • "... he said, because RUF was a family. When he would

    inform the RUF family, then he will respond whether he

    would take the position or he would appoint somebody else.

    Q. Now, Mr Witness, let's clear up some of things you

    said. You said first he suggested that he would take

    Mosquito back. Who suggested that?

    A. Charles Taylor suggested that he wanted to send

    Mosquito back. He suggested that he wanted to send him

    back to Sierra Leone as RUF leader."

    Did you do that?

  • And the witness himself accepts that there were other Presidents present. Do you see any sense in making such a suggestion in front of the other Presidents who were present, Mr Taylor?

  • Total nonsense. No, no sense whatsoever.

  • "Q. And then you said, 'But Issa, if you take care as a

    commander, as a leader.' Who was saying that to Issa, 'If

    you take care as a commander or as a leader'?

    A. Charles Taylor was saying that to Issa.

    Q. Then you said that except if he returned and informed

    the RUF family, then he will respond whether he would take

    the position. Who is this who is speaking?

    A. Issa was the one speaking to the delegation.

    Q. Now, what happened after this exchange at this meeting?

    What happened next?

    A. Later Issa and others returned to the guesthouse where

    they were in Congo Town."

    Now, listen to this, please, Mr Taylor, and listen carefully.

  • "Q. And what happened then?

    A. At night, around 11 to 12, Benjamin Yeaten came to

    receive Issa and Augustine Gbao and one other person who

    joined hem to go and meet Charles Taylor at night.

    Q. And what happened after Benjamin Yeaten came and got

    those people?

    A. When they went they met with Charles Taylor, and

    Charles Taylor said that Issa should bear in mind that the

    people who were talking to them were British elected

    Presidents and he should not - the witness - he said he was

    not to listen to the Sierra Leone government because the

    Sierra Leone government was a British elected government

    and they were remote controlled by the British and so he

    should not listen to them."

    Now, taking that in stages. First of all, you appreciate, of course, don't you, Mr Taylor, what is being suggested here: That you are playing a double game; that there is this meeting during the day with the other Presidents, and then at night you sneaked these people into your residence to have a cozy little private chat with them. You understand this, don't you?

  • I understand.

  • Did that take place?

  • No, but he is saying that the Presidents - it did not happen, first. It did not happen that way. But he says that the Presidents are British elected Presidents. How could Alpha Konare be British elected? How could Eyadema be British elected? There was no such thing said to anybody of such that these people should not be listened to, that they were British elected. This is some of their concoction. No such thing was said.

  • And he continues:

    "And so any time he" - that would be Issa - "would be

    asked to disarm, he should just say yes, but he should not

    do it in reality."

    You understand what the witness is saying about you, Mr Taylor, don't you?

  • Yes, I do.

  • That you are here playing a double game; you understand that, don't you?

  • That you are talking peace in public, but in private in these midnight meetings, you are telling Issa Sesay not to disarm. You understand that, don't you?

  • I understand that very well.

  • Were you doing that?

  • No, I was not doing that, and the records are very clear. The records are very clear to what - this - what do I do in this process? Remember, I get concerned that Sankoh does not want to disarm and that he is playing games, and I am pushing for this process to continue. I alert colleagues. It is reported to the United Nations that I am not too satisfied with these excuses by this man. I think we need to put more pressure for him to disarm. So for someone to come back and talk this type of thing here, I don't know who put them up to this kind of stuff, but everything is being done to get the disarmament going.

  • Tell me, Mr Taylor, what would you have gained from playing the double game suggested by this witness?

  • Absolutely nothing to gain on my part or Liberia's part. Nothing.

  • And the witness goes on: "And in that case, he, Charles Taylor, will continue to assist the RUF as he was doing before." Did you say that?

  • Never, never would I have said that. Never.

  • "From there he gave Issa $15,000 US and Issa returned home." Did you?

  • I did give Issa Sesay and his delegation some money on that trip, as is usual. I had done it with every delegation. We do that in Africa. That's our style, and we are not western Presidents. You come to visit us - Issa Sesay came with a delegation; I did give Issa Sesay come money --

  • I'm not too sure. It could have been probably in the neighbourhood of $5,000 to $7,000. I don't remember the exact amount, but I would give money on these trips, yes.

  • And help us, the money that you gave to Issa Sesay, was that in a clandestine midnight meeting?

  • No, no, no, no, no, no. No. This is - when - the delegation, before they left, I gave them this money, and I am sure they had bought small items in Monrovia. This was no secret, and in the presence of - at this time I met Issa the morning of the 27th, if I am not mistaken, because the Heads of State left - some of them left that evening; some left the next morning. I met him the next morning with most members of the delegation, about three or four other persons came along, and I gave them money in an envelope so they could do some shopping before returning.

  • Shopping for what items?

  • Well, normally these boys come to Monrovia they would buy sneakers, jeans, and any little thing that they couldn't find in the bush. I did it, remember? There is evidence before this Court. It is true I did it with Johnny Paul Kromah when he came. We always gave - Sam Bockarie came to Liberia, we gave money. Most times in Africa, Heads of State receiving these little boys or little delegations will give them envelopes. That's a part of our custom, and I did it at that time, yes.

  • Now, the witness was then asked this question:

    "Q. Now, you said that Issa should bear in mind that the

    people who were talking to him before then were British

    elected Presidents. Who is that that they were being

    referred to, these people?

    A. He was referring to the four other four Heads of

    State."

    Now, were they British elected?

  • Well, that just shows you. This boy, I don't know what he is talking about. Except he is assuming that these French speaking individuals are supposed to be elected by Britain. These boys just - they ask them questions and they come up with what they want to come up with. How would I say Alpha Konare and - I know the problem between Nigeria, and I know Yahya very well - Yahya Jammeh. In fact, at that particular time even Yahya Jammeh and the British were at loggerheads. In fact, Yahya had almost more problems with the British than Nigeria. Because Yahya went downtown and dug up all old British cemeteries and told them to carry their dead from his city. So he is hardly someone that the British would elect, so this boy is talking nonsense. I said no such thing. Alpha Konare is French. The French have always had a very good relationship with Francophone countries. Eyadema? Eyadema is a personal, personal, personal friend of Chirac and the French and all preceding French governments from Mitterrand to Valery Giscard d'Estaing, all of these people. So these little boys don't know what they are talking about.

  • And it continues:

    "Q. And then you said that Charles Taylor said that Issa

    should not. Issa should not what?

    A. That Issa should not listen to them. He said today,

    for example, they would embrace him, and the other day they

    will just deny him."

    Did you say that?

  • Total nonsense. Never said any such thing.

  • "Q. And now you indicated that Charles Taylor - he said he

    would continue to assist the RUF. Did he indicate in what

    way he would continue to assist the RUF?

    A. He just said that he would assist them just as he had

    been assisting them before."

    Did you say that?

  • I did not say that.

  • "Q. Now, you indicated that Charles Taylor told Issa that

    any time he was asked to disarm he should just say yes.

    Was it indicated who would be asking him to disarm?

    A. Yes.

    Q. And who was that?

    A. He said any time the UN would tell him to disarm, he

    would accept but would not actualise it. He will not

    follow the instruction. He will just say yes for the

    moment and not do it in reality."

    Did you say that, Mr Taylor?

  • Never said that, no. I was - this very thing - this boy is talking about what's - what I had criticised Foday Sankoh for; that there was a delay, and he was wasting time, and he should get on with the disarmament.

  • "Q. You said that after this Charles Taylor gave Issa

    $15,000 and Issa returned home. What do you mean? Where

    did Issa go?

    A. He went to the lodge, the guesthouse in Congo Town."

    Was the RUF guesthouse still in operation at this time, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it was. Yes, it was.

  • And did Issa Sesay and his delegation stay at that guesthouse?

  • "Q. And what happened after that?

    A. From - he spent 26 July, and the follow day he flew

    back to Sierra Leone."

    Is that true?

  • Yes, Issa flew back on the 27th, yes.

  • "Q. When you say he flew back to Sierra Leone, how did he

    fly back to Sierra Leone?

    A. I think you did not get me clearly. He did not fly to

    Sierra Leone. He flew to Foya, then he went to

    Sierra Leone. He took a flight from Monrovia and he

    disembarked in Foya and from Foya he took a vehicle to

    Sierra Leone.

    Q. What type of aircraft did he take from Monrovia to

    Foya?

    A. He used Weasua."

    Did he?

  • "Q. Did he take anything back to Sierra Leone with him

    from Monrovia?

    A. Issa bought drinks using the money Charles Taylor had

    given to him and some other things and they were loaded in

    the chopper, but he was not given anything else from

    Monrovia to be brought to Sierra Leone."

    Do you know what, in fact, he bought, Mr Taylor?

  • No, not in details. But, like I said, these boys, you give them money, they will buy sneakers, jeans. But, counsel, am I not right, there was another witness that described these same trips and said that there were ammunitions on the choppers.

  • TF1-567. We discussed that earlier.

  • Exactly, saying that I took back ammunition. Here is this other one saying there was nothing on the plane except for drinks and other things. So that shows how consistent these statements, I mean, are.

  • "Q. When Issa returned from Foya to Sierra Leone, did he

    take anything with him from Foya to Sierra Leone?

    A. He took the things he had bought in Monrovia to

    Sierra Leone.

    Q. What happened after Issa arrived back in Sierra Leone?

    A. He convened a meeting, an RUF meeting in Lebanon,

    Koidu Town, and he briefed his colleagues what

    Charles Taylor had told him, and all of them said, yes, we

    will accept that to happen. But even there we would want

    to have a message from the Pa and Issa said okay. But

    that had already been in place because Obasanjo had

    already volunteered to meet with the Pa and to know his

    view, whether they would have a leadership to be working on

    his behalf. So he had just come to ask who should be the

    leader. But the colleagues told him they will only appoint

    someone if they saw a letter from the Pa himself.

    Q. Now just for clarity, when you refer to the Pa, who are

    you referring to?

    A. That was Pa Sankoh.

    Q. What happened after this? From there within two to

    three days, Issa said Charles Taylor had invited him again

    to go over."

    Is that true?

  • That's not true.

  • "... That Obasanjo was to return to Liberia and Issa went

    again to Foya and flew to Liberia.

    Q. When he flew from Foya, where did he go?

    A. He was dropped at the international airport in Liberia,

    RIA."

    Is that true?

  • Yeah, but you see what he's talking. He says a few days later. He came on 21 August. We are talking about weeks later, not a few days.

  • And did he go into RIA?

  • Yes, that's why I said he met the three of us at RIA. That's where we met him.

  • And was that the occasion of the communique?

  • That's the occasion of the communique, yes.

  • Which we looked at this morning?

  • Which bears a date?

  • "A. From there, within two to three days, Issa said

    Charles Taylor had invited him to go over. He flew from

    Foya and was dropped at RIA.

    Q. When he flew from Foya and was dropped at RIA, what

    type of aircraft flew him from Foya?

    A. He used the same Weasua."

    Mr Taylor, just help me. What is this Weasua?

  • I responded to the honourable justice on this. Weasua is a company. It's an aircraft company in Liberia that have - they had a helicopter and they had a couple of fixed wing aircrafts, Russian type planes, that flew short flights between Monrovia and Abidjan. It's an air transport company.

  • Now help us, Mr Taylor. Was it a government owned company of what?

  • And did the Liberian government use Weasua?

  • The fixed wing aircraft, yes sometimes. The UN leased their helicopters. But all of these trips are undertaken by Liberian government helicopter.

  • And help me, when was Weasua operational?

  • Weasua became operational in Liberia as far back as the Tubman years. I would say Weasua has been operational in Liberia for more than 25 years.

  • Are they still operational?

  • To the best of my recollection, Weasua, yes, could still be. I am not too sure. I have been away for so long. I am not too sure. But I see no reason why they wouldn't still be in operation.

  • "Q. And what happened at Roberts International Airport?

    A. At Roberts International Airport he met Obasanjo and

    Oumar Konare."

    Did he met them at RIA, Mr Taylor?

  • "They were taken to the waiting room in RIA." Is that right?

  • Yes, well - yes, they had a waiting room, yes.

  • "That was where the meeting was held. Obasanjo handed the letter over that he had taken from Freetown from Charles Taylor." What letter is that?

  • I don't know what he is talking about here. This is probably an error. He is talking about a letter he had taken from Freetown from Foday Sankoh, not from Charles Taylor, because Sankoh responded to Issa. I think this is an error in the transcript.

  • And indeed, the witness goes on to correct it and says:

    "The letter he had brought from Sierra Leone, that is from Pa Sankoh, was given to Charles Taylor. And Pa Sankoh - sorry, he, Charles Taylor himself, gave the letter to Issa."

    Did you?

  • The letter was brought to the meeting and it was handed to Issa, yes.

  • Now, just for clarity, was it you who handed it to Issa?

  • Yes, I read the letter because Obasanjo came and brought it to him, gave it to me and I handed it to Issa.

  • "Q. Now, you said the letter was handed to Charles Taylor

    and then Charles Taylor handed the letter to Issa Sesay.

    What happened when Issa Sesay received the letter?

    A. Issa Sesay passed the letter on to his adjutant, his

    clerk, but we called it adjutant in the guerrilla army.

    The letter was passed to him and that was Jabba. He was

    called adjutant Jabba. Jabba opened the letter and showed

    it to Issa and Issa looked at the signature and said,

    yes, that is Pa Sankoh's signature."

    Did that occur?

  • I don't know the exact sequence for what happened, but I doubt the sequence here because a Head of State handing you a letter and you passing it to somebody else to open, I mean I would not accept that before me. So I don't know the exact sequence, but this doesn't appear to be the exact sequence for me to give or any President to give a letter to Issa and he the big man take it to give it to somebody else to open. Nonsense. I don't know think this is the sequence. But a letter was given to Issa and my own recollection is that Issa opened the letter, but this would not be acceptable for me.

  • "Q. And what happened after that?

    A. Then Jabba read the letter. According to what he said,

    because I did not read the letter, he said Pa Sankoh had

    said Issa should now take control of the leadership and he

    should take instructions, just as Mosquito used to do while

    he was in jail - while he, Pa Sankoh, was in jail in

    Nigeria, that Issa should now take control and instructions

    from" - guess who - "Charles Taylor."

    Did the letter say that?

  • The letter never said that. In fact, if that letter had said that, the first thing Obasanjo and Konare would have done, they would have never brought such nonsense, where Foday Sankoh read a letter and say from now on take instructions from Charles Taylor. In fact, knowing Obasanjo and Konare, they would not have countenanced such nonsense. It can't be, no.

  • Now remember, Mr Taylor, this is being said now in front of those other two Presidents because they are present in the waiting room, aren't they, at RIA?

  • And it's being said that Issa Sesay, the leader of the RUF, should take instructions from you, the same way that Mosquito did. So help us, when that was said, what did Obasanjo and Konare say?

  • This is another one of those concoctions. Don't let's forget, let the Court be reminded, this letter is written by Foday Sankoh in the presence of three Presidents. Tejani Kabbah, Obasanjo and Alpha Konare are present when Foday Sankoh writes this letter. You know who would have been the first to object and you would have heard about it immediately? Even Tejan Kabbah right there would have said you see what we are talking about, he is saying that we should take - this is total nonsense. Kabbah would have objected. Obasanjo would have never countenanced such. Neither Konare.

    This is not a letter sneaking in. This is a letter written and given to two Heads of State, but written in the presence of three Heads of State. And this boy would talk this thing here as though there was such thing in that letter. Nobody would have brought this letter. In fact, this letter would have been - I mean Kabbah would have hit the roof. Obasanjo would have hit the roof and Konare. There was no such thing in that letter. None of such.

  • "... that Issa should now take control and instructions

    from Charles Taylor.

    Q. Now, what happened after this?

    A. After that, Obasanjo took a parcel and handed it over

    to Issa.

    Q. And what happened after Obasanjo handed this parcel to

    Issa?

    A. He bade farewell. He said goodbye and left the place,

    he and Oumar Konare. They left and flew back to their

    individual countries and Issa came to Monrovia city."

    Tell me, did Obasanjo give a parcel to Issa?

  • Yes, he gave an envelope with money. It's money, which is normal. Yes, he did give an envelope to the delegation at Robertsfield, but he didn't just leave immediately. This boy doesn't know, because there was a press conference held. No President would just continue like that and move. They held a press conference and everything. That's why they didn't come all the way to Monrovia. We did everything at the airport. After the press conference, we sat down, had a couple of cold drinks, Coca-Cola and stuff, before they departed.

  • I recall your Honour reminding me that this clock is slow. I don't know how much time we have left.

  • Are you moving on to a different topic?

  • No, I'm on the same topic.

  • We have got about two minutes.